Dear Community Members,
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rotem Cohen and I am the Israeli Shlicha (emissary) here at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC.
You may have heard about what has been happening in Israel over the past few weeks. These are complicated and sad times for everyone involved and I wanted to give some perspective to the situation as an Israeli.
If I were living in Israel right now, I would have probably been called to do reserves in the IDF, which means I would be resuming my position in the control tower within the air force. Since I am not in Israel, but here in Houston being a Shlicha, sharing my story and my thoughts is my reserves service.
Earlier today, Operation 'Guardian of the Walls' ended with the beginning of a ceasefire after 11 intense days. I'd like to take this time to look back at the last 11 days and begin to try and grasp everything that happened.
Over the past 11 days, my parents and brother who live in Modiin (located in the center of Israel) were in and out of bomb shelters. Normally I would check in with them once a day, but during the last 11 days I felt the need to be in touch all day long to make sure they were safe. I was also concerned that my brother, who just finished his service as a combat fighter, would be called back to reserves. I have mixed feelings because he was not called back, but many of my friends were.
My sister, who lives in Jerusalem, had to stay in her apartment building because of the safety concerns surrounding the riots that started two weeks ago.
Watching what was happening in my home caused me to be consumed by worry and stress, and the reality is that this is something that those of us who live in Israel deal with too often.
The people who live close to the Gaza Strip face this reality more often. Here, children learn at an early age not to play with the balloons coming from the sky – because they might explode. Children must know where the closest bomb shelter is at all times. This past week, I saw a picture in the news of babies who were just born in Beer-Sheva (southern area of Israel) being held in the hospital hallways to protect them as a siren went off. This is not a reality anyone should have to live through.
I am not a politician, I don’t know all of the answers or have my mind set on one opinion, but I am an Israeli. An Israeli that is hurting seeing people living in fear and kids so scared to leave their shelter that they stay in it even when there isn’t a siren going off. An Israeli that is wishing for safer days.
I hope you join me in wishing that the decision to cease fire will bring better, quieter days to everyone involved.
For anyone wanting to share, talk and ask questions I am available through my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
May you have a restful and meaningful Shabbat.