Overwhelming how quickly and drastically things have changed.
In Jerusalem, the week of Sukkot was amazing with tens of thousands of visitors and hundreds of holiday events. Hashanah Rabah programs Thursday night attracted thousands and many people stayed up all night learning. The city was back to life and tourism thriving as in the days before the pandemic.
As the sun rose on Shabbat Simhat Torah morning that world came to an end.
The streets were too quiet. It sounded like Yom Kippur morning outside with no traffic and no cars.
At 8:15 a.m. a missile warning siren blared for a startling wake-up call. We have had rockets aimed at Jerusalem from Gaza before, so the siren sound was not new. Then there was another a few minutes later. After each siren, we heard the sounds of an Iron Dome interception. There were nine that day.
The ambulance sirens changed to an emergency siren sound like those of vehicles heard in old World War II movies so people would not run for cover, since the ambulance siren could be mistaken for the air raid siren.
“Go home. It’s a war,” said the guard when I arrived at the synagogue.
We stayed home. Our guests did not arrive. Only later did we learn some of the extent of the horrific events in southern Israel. The number of murdered, injured, and kidnapped by Hamas is mind-boggling. It is still a developing story and one that has reawakened Shoah trauma for too many.
Israel schools did not open after the holidays ended. Many teachers have been called up for reserve duty.
Weddings have been postponed or drastically cut down to the numbers allowed to attend. Rabbis as well as the young men ready to get married this week were called up on reserve duty. On Sunday night, our family had a simple home Bat Mitzvah party for our granddaughter instead of the planned shul event with many friends.
To add to the gloomy mood as reports of Hamas barbarism became known, the weather was cloudy and dark with cold rain. People stayed inside not knowing what unthinkable things could happen next.
However, on both Sunday and Monday, blood donors stood in line at the special Teddy Stadium collection in Jerusalem for 5 hours, some waited for 10 hours. Cars filled the parking lot before the opening time to donate blood as they might be for a big sporting event.
By the end of Day 5, it felt like weeks, but there were no new sirens in Jerusalem by Wednesday night.
In Jerusalem, the building projects have stopped. The sounds of drilling and construction are not heard.
Monday was very quiet with people concerned about leaving home and the miserable weather. The sounds of planes flying overhead day and through the night to 1,400 targeted strikes in Gaza.
In Jerusalem, businesses that were closed all last week for Sukkot were back again. Fresh baked goods lined shelves on Tuesday, as cafes were opening, and store shelves were filled with fresh produce and canned food.
Traffic and learning drivers were out. Imagine – a pleasant sign of normal seeing a brief negative exchange between two drivers.
Volunteers of all ages were in multiple locations preparing food for soldiers or those in need in the South.
At OneFamily volunteers baked, and prepared packages to help, while others brought donations.
Marc Belzberg noted that OneFamily had more people to help in these last two days than in the past 22 years since they started assisting victims of terror.
“We have a secret weapon here in Israel” – it is reported Golda Meir said – “We have no place else to go.” “We have no place else to go.”
Remember for years media repeated the lie that Gaza was under siege. Here is a post for 2016 when seeing Kerem Shalom and the huge size of the trucks and operation proved otherwise.
Know that Israel is finally out to eliminate the terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza so they can never try to attack Israeli civilians as they did on the holiday of Simhat Torah.
Hopefully, we can close the bomb shelters and walk freely on the Jerusalem streets again soon.