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Only a heartbeat away

'What are you going to do?'

Marla Cohen is a freelance writer. She lives in Rockland County.

Einat Mazafi of Closter has been keeping in touch with her parents, sister, and two brothers regularly, speaking with them up to three times a day since hostilities in Israel escalated. She worries most about her parents, who are elderly – especially her mother, who cares for her infirm father on her own.

“It’s not like the Gulf War, when I was there, helping,” said Mazafi, who was a teenager in 1991 when Iraq fired Scud missiles on Israeli cities. “They have to go somewhere, a shelter. They don’t have a safe room in their building.”

Her family, who lives in Givat Shmuel near Tel Aviv and Hod HaSharon, to its north, hears the missile explosions nearby and feels fortunate compared to those who live in the south of Israel, where they are under constant barrage. That they go on in the face of such adversity is what gives Israel its strength, she said.

“People ask how they can keep doing things like going to the mall,” said Mazafi, who came to the United States 13 years ago, after her army service and college. “The only way people can survive is not to stay home, not to get scared. They are going to the mall, going to work, and just doing everything normal.

“That’s the way we are winning the war.”

Nonetheless, while trying to keep to things as normal as much as possible, her family has altered its daily routines slightly. They stay close to home and avoid open areas, she said, just running their errands, going to work, and then coming home.

“What are you going to do, not continue?” she said.

Her cousin in Beer Sheva recently has started to experience panic attacks and is too worried about the situation to travel to Jerusalem to stay with Mazafi’s mother, she said.

Mostly her family has a sense of having been there and done this all before. During the 2006 Lebanon War her grandmother’s house in Kiryat Shimona was bombed repeatedly, and her aunt decided afterward to move to Haifa.

“It’s very exhausting, to be honest,” Mazafi said. “You feel like it’s never going to end.”

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