On the Ground in Israel: First person perspective from SWC Interfaith Director

May 13, 2021

Who would have thought a month ago we would be running down to our shelter—the old kind with reinforced walls and ceiling, designed for outmoded wars. Yet, two nights ago when the sirens went off we ran to the shelter. We did not make it down before hearing the thuds, of two rockets from Gaza landing just a few miles down the road from where we live in Jerusalem. We sat until the sirens stopped.

The next morning, we did a better job provisioning our old-fashioned bomb shelter, now offering (we hoped) protection from shrapnel, even if not from a direct hit.

For now, it seems Jerusalem has been spared the worst but people in Ashkelon and around Tel Aviv have been running in and out of shelters, or staying in them for long hours. Tonight, however, we have been warned by the military High Command to expect bombardment of Jerusalem as well. We’re trying to figure out whether to get to bed, or to wait for the sirens to go off…


Don’t get me wrong. Life continues without missing a beat. People go to work, go to school (except for the places most endangered), fill the malls and restaurants. The airport has been closed, then reopened, subject to trajectory of Hamas missiles.

Everyone is doing a great job going about daily activity – but expecting interruption. Israelis are great at that. It’s part of life, the price we pay for living in a Jewish state, never free of existential threats.

At least the chaos here is ours – and we’re united in attending to it, even if we fight about everything else here. At least here we are free to do something about it, and with G-d’s help and the bravery of our soldiers, we don’t sit back and take it.

We live in a neighborhood sloping down one of the Jerusalem hills. Our spectacular view includes the valley below and a panorama of everything atop the surrounding hills. One of those hills – in walking distance – is Arab. While I am an Orthodox Jew, I find the frequent calls of the muezzin comforting and even inspiring. It reminds me that the passion for connection with G-d runs deep here, and gives hope for using the positive aspects of that passion to contribute to peace between people if they could unseat the extremists and the politicians. One of the saddest things to contemplate is what is happening in some mixed Jewish/Arab towns.

The progress of decades of living together, the casual conversations and friendships between Jews and Arabs, may come apart because of the incitement by Hamas, the PA, and the proxies of Iran.

By SWC Interfaith Director, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein
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