Although this community does not feel the barrage of rockets, the adrenaline and strain of IDF service, the upside-down-ness of life after a sudden recall to active service, the sleepless worry of parents, the responsibility of hundreds of innocent deaths on the other side, or the uncertainty of the outcome of the situation in Gaza, many of us have deep connections to Israelis, and even more of us want to help in any way we can.
Here are some stories of how this community ““ and remember that New Jersey is about the size of Israel ““ is reacting. These stories are just a few of very many, but we think that they are both representative and illustrative.
Please note that we have been careful not to include too much information in these stories. We have not said anything about where IDF members are serving, or what they are doing ““ or even given their names. We know that the IDF does not think it safe to publicize such information, and we comply with that request willingly.
Jonathan and Shannon Sarna Goldberg of Jersey City were in Israel recently.
Ms. Goldberg, who works for UJA Federation of Manhattan, was there on business, and she brought their 2-year-old daughter, Ella, with her. Using the new way we have of telling time, she arrived the day that the three murdered Israeli teenagers were discovered. Mr. Goldberg, who grew up in Englewood, joined them a week later ““ the day that the murdered Palestinian boy’s body was found.
Most of their trip was uneventful, and they enjoyed it. There were six days of rocket fire. “We were able to shield Ella from it,” Mr. Goldberg said. “We’d grab the iPad and take it into the shelter, and she would watch a movie or we’d sing with her.” On the last day, though, they were at a water park in Tel Aviv ““ “we were in a pirate-theme pool,” he said ““ when the sirens went off. “Fifty kids and their families ran simultaneously,” he said.
The Israeli kids’ reactions ranged from “here we go again to being a little more concerned, but there was no major visceral reaction,” he said. Still, it was very noisy – there were a lot of kids running around – and “that was the first time that Ella had an adverse reaction to the sirens,” her father said.
“When we got home, she said to us a couple of random times that she was scared,” he continued. “Remember ““ she’s 2. We don’t know what it’s coming from.
“Our babysitter told us that on Tuesday, when there was a bad thunderstorm, she got a little whimpery. Part of it could have been that it sounded like the Iron Dome overhead ““ or it could be just that she was reacting to the thunder.
“It’s part of our whole duality in coming back. We’re glad to be back, we’re glad that we’re safe, and that things are quiet here, but at the same time we feel guilty. We’re longing to be with our friends and family there, who do not have the chance to just get on a plane.
“We lived the way Israelis lived ““ for a week. We spent five minutes in a shelter, and then went on as if nothing had happened. We sort of want to downplay it ““ and we sort of don’t.”