Sunday, February 24, 2008

SDEROT


On Friday there was a country-wide caravan down to Sderot. People from all over the country were encouraged to drive down to Sderot and do their regular weekly shopping in the beleaguered town. The point was to support the people of Sderot, both financially and emotionally.

I went.

Sderot is located in a beautiful part of Israel. The recent rains have forged lush green landscapes dotted with red kalaniyot. At Kibbutz Yad Mordecai, convoys from countless cities converged to create a huge traffic jam into the town.


"We will not abandon Sderot"

It's a beautiful, clean town, with neat homes and apartment buildings. On this day, there were people everywhere. There was an upbeat atmosphere. It is not a tourist town, and we were encouraged to make our everyday purchases there. People filled their carts in the supermarkets, ate in the cafes and restaurants and soaked in the atmosphere.

There were no politics here. No right or left, chiloni or dati. Just Jews supporting Jews.







"Sderot is in our hearts"





I walked around, absorbing it all. I was so proud of these people, proud of myself that I could even consider participating in this event.





"Peretz Center thanks [its visitors] for your support of the city" (They are thanking ME???)





One of the last stops we made was in a take-out place, where I met Ronit. She was so thankful for us coming in to her store. I asked her how she was doing, and she spoke to us for a long time. She said, (and I'm paraphrasing) "I am a Bat Sderot--a daughter of Sderot--I was born here, and my father (she gestured to him) was one of the founders of this town. I will never leave this place; it is my home and I won't be driven out. But it is difficult. Many have left, not only because they are afraid, but because they can't make a living here. We own a beautiful catering hall, and there have been no smachot (parties) there for the past five years. I now work in a factory to support my family. I used to have faith in my government, in the army, but no longer. They have abandoned us. But when people like you come, we know that the people are with us, and that you care. And that fills me with hope...."

As I walked around the city, I heard singing, and the strains of an accordian coming from a restaurant. I went inside to find an old-fashioned kumsitz going on.




They clapped their hands and danced and sang,





"VeHa--eekar, Lo Lefakhed klal"--"And the main thing is not to fear at all".


That just slew me. Look at their faces--to feel the utter presence of joy in that place was such a priviledge for me. Because that is really the only word that can describe that day in Sderot: Simcha--joy.

When I was trying to arrange a ride down to Sderot, someone asked me why I even wanted to go. I was astounded by this question. It's been a hard six months for us, adjusting to this new life of ours. There have been times I have questioned the sanity of our decision. But on Friday, I remembered a feeling that I used to have in America that I no longer have: I used to feel that those people are there in the land intended for us experiencing all kinds of things that I am not a part of. I felt that I was sitting on the periphery of our nation's history. Now I hear about kassams falling daily on the people of Sderot. Most of the time I go about my business and try not to think about it, because really what could I do? But on Friday I had the opportunity, for a few short hours to be there with those people. I got to go home, but Ronit still has to run to her shelter umpteen times a day. How could I not go? This day was not about me going to help them. This day helped me. It gave me chizuk to know that I am no longer sitting on the sidelines of history. It taught my children something huge.

This day brought me pure, simple, unadulterated Simcha.

13 comments:

SuperRaizy said...

Amazing. What a wonderful day that must have been. The people of Israel always seem to know the right thing to do in a crisis. I just wish the government would make the people of Sderot a top priority and do what is necessary to restore normalcy to their town.

Batya said...

I couldn't make it.
http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/2008/02/shopping-in-sderot.html

come running said...

Thanks for posting about your trip there. It made me feel proud to be a part of the Jewish nation.

Gila said...

I actually just sent an email out to see if anyone is planning on going on Thursday or Friday. I am on vacation this week and really want to go!

Baila said...

SR:

It really was a great day. I am still reliving it in my mind.

Batya:

I'm sure there will be another nationwide like this, but you don't necessarily have to wait for that.

CR:

Yup.

Gila:

Maybe you could hook up with Batya. If you think you're gonna go, don't buy anything at home this week--save it all for the markets down there.

Anonymous said...

Our kids at shul packed shalach manot called "hugs and kisses" (can you guess what they put inside) for the children in sderot. i believe out friend Stuart is delivering them. What an experience that must have beem for you.
Sharon

Arthur said...

Baila

I just sent a friend of mine a link to this post

I hope he gets it

Shabbat Shalom from San Jose

Arthur

Baila said...

Sharon,

I spoke to Stuart while he was here... He did spend an entire day in S'derot.

Arthur,

Thanks! and Shavua Tov from Modiin

Alisha said...

Kol hakavod to you and eveyone who went, and to those who organized the event. This type of behavior is one of the huge reasons I want to make aliya.

But much as I hate to even think this, won't a regular initiative like this just encourage the frequency of kassams on Fridays, the same way suicide bombers targeted Machane Yehuda davka when people shop for shabbat? Did any rockets land while you were there? Does Sderot have room in their shelters for even half of the people who were there that day?

I'm sure the spiritual and financial contribution is invaluable...but it's such a very interim measure -- and such a risky one at that. :-(

Alisha said...

On a more uplifting note than my last comment, see what simple and wonderful help is being given to children who have to live every day with fear:

http://www.israelity.com/?p=4533

Baila said...

Alisha,

I don't think this is a regular Friday event. This was a massive, country-wide event, that as far as I know is being planned once every few months. That being said, I did wonder where the throngs of people would run for shelter should the "Tzeva Adom" be sounded. Some people did get instructions upon arriving in the city, I did not. Thank G-d it didn't happen, because I think there probably would have been pandemonium.

Like I said, although the effort was appreciated by the residents of Sderot, I got to go home to Modiin, which so far, Thank G-d has not seen any rockets. Maybe it is a futile effort. But those people have to know that, at least, their fellow citizens care, even if their government seems to not.

Baila said...

...and I'll go check out the link as well...

Veev said...

Let me know next time you go. Maybe I'll tag along.