A closer understanding of war

A closer understanding of war

Early on July 11 our family headed north from Nahariya to Rosh Hanikra. We did not know it, but two tanks had just been ambushed. Eight brave boys were murdered and two young men captured and kidnapped. Two Zahal jeeps and a tank stopped us with instructions to turn back. We spent the day at the Ghetto Fighters Museum, as helicopters flew overhead, knowing something was up but not knowing the details. Later in the afternoon we realized we had been minutes away from where Hezbollah had infiltrated sovereign Israel (miracle #1).

Eliora Wolf, left, and her mother, Varda Hager Wolf, smile in Nahariya the night before rockets fell on the city. photo by robert wolf

Na?vet? is blissful. Our family spent a beautiful evening on the beach, having dinner and walking along the coast. Just as we arrived in our room at about 9:30, we were instructed to go immediately down to the miklat, the underground bunker. My daughter grabbed her siddur and tehillim and we were off. In the bunker we met dozens of people. The Israelis began to leave and drive home, but foreign visitors stayed behind. Folding beds were supplied, but no one had a restful night. We planned to head out just before 7 a.m., but stopped to talk to one of our bunker mates. Suddenly, the front desk manager told us to run back down to the miklat. Two Katuyshas had just fallen in the center of Nahariya. One rocket fell on the main road that leads out of town to the Haifa highway. Had we not been stopped in the lobby we would have been on that road at the time the rocket hit (miracle #’).

We Americans are not used to the daily threat of death that hovers over Israeli citizens, and the large thick metal door that closed us safely into the miklat was frightening. There is no phone service. Each person has his or her own perception of danger, his or her own fear. Some people are silent while others can’t stop talking. Children want to know when we can leave. Some people whimper and others cry. When will this be over and when it is who will be above ground to greet us? Do our dear family members know we are relatively "safe" or are they desperately trying to reach us on our cellphones?

With all I have heard from my parents about World War II, all that I have read or the documentaries I have watched, this experience brought me closer to understanding what had occurred to the Jewish people 70 years ago. This was an unprovoked attack upon a people for no other reason than we were Jewish. We had no way to protect ourselves, suddenly we were victims of others.

We were fortunate to be able to leave while many others were not. The look in their eyes was haunting and will never leave me. While we could run south, we were leaving fellow Jews behind.

We would stay another 1′ days in Israel. While in Yerushalayim we stopped in at a store on the corner of Yafo Street and King George to visit a cousin. After the initial pleasantries, we began to speak of the matzav, the current "situation." And then, a neighboring shopkeeper came in to report that a homicide bomber had just been caught near the city hall complex just minutes from where we stood. There was a feeling of shock and fear, but this quickly passed, for the threat had been taken care of (miracle #3).

After Shabbat dinner July ‘1, we made our way back to our rooms on the 10th floor, where we had a great view of the ocean as well as the busy thoroughfare of Hayarkon. Hayarkon begins in northern Tel Aviv and winds its way south into Jaffa. Friday night traffic on this street is generally bumper to bumper, with people eager to meet their friends or family at a restaurant or a caf?. On this night the traffic was purposely redirected into one lane. A police car blocked one lane and officers inspected the passengers of each car as they inched their way into the remaining lane. Suddenly we saw a helicopter flying south with a beam of light shining onto the rooftops and streets. It was clear what was happening. Somewhere, someone was out there to do evil, and it was a race to see who would get to his or her goal first, the evil or the Jewish defense. After some time the police car left and the helicopter flew away. Thankfully, the defense mechanism accomplished its goal. The next day my uncle, who lives the blocks north of the hotel, walked over to tell us that two men and one woman were caught on his street. I still shudder when I think of how close my family was to this danger (miracle #4).

We left Israel on July ‘4. It is always hard to leave Israel, but this time was the most difficult. As we left for the relative safety of Teaneck, we felt we were abandoning our people. There is a lot of political rhetoric by politicians who do not understand the motivations of evil. Unfortunately, they will determine our destiny. As individuals we are obligated to cry for our dead and wounded. We must also come together to act and pray as one people in the hope that HaShem will respond.

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