*Harvey Tannenbaum. A native Californian who moved to Efrat, Israel in 1998 and works as an events planner.
Last Friday night at time of the the “Lecha Dodi” prayer for Shabbat, the 1st siren went off throughout the Gush for the rocket attack from Hamas that hit the eastern Gush Etzion area, landing in the Arab village nearby.
We waited and finished the Maariv prayer in the synagogue bomb shelter.
Some people left before the end of prayers to check on their families. I had to wait for the last mourner’s kaddish as I am in my year of mourning for my Mom, Pearl bat Golda Z”L.
I walked to our daughter and son in law’s apartment where we were joining them for Friday night dinner. I entered the front door and asked the grandchildren, aging from 2.5 to 6.5 yrs. old, if they ‘heard the siren?’ The unanimous answer was “betach”(of course). They kids continued to play and appeared to forget the noise of the siren on Shabbat as we continued our Friday night zmirot and dinner.
At 8pm after dinner, we walked back from the Zayit section of Efrat to our home in the Dekel section as the streets were completely empty of the usual throngs of teenagers walking and talking on a Friday night. The rest of Shabbat was uneventful here, as we continued to monitor the missile reports after Shabbat throughout the country.
At 2 15pm today, I had just gotten home in Efrat, when the sirens went off again. Tuesdays are the ‘short day’ in Israel, so kids get out of school earlier than other days. As we began to run downstairs to the miklat(bomb shelter), I looked outside and a school bus stopped which was the correct procedure for the bus driver. 30 children who were being transported from Efrat schools to the various drop off points for their homes in Efrat ran out of the bus with their teacher and student helpers who travel with them daily.
Immediately, I began to assist to keep the kids moving to the nearest house with a Miklat (shelter), mine! Thirty kids, most of whom were 3rd graders, began to run quickly with tears running down their cheeks. We got them all into the crowded miklat, phones ringing off the hook, and kids very shaken asking for “Eema” and “abba” – father and mother..
I realized that my daughter had carpool today for the 4year olds, one of them being my grandson. I looked at the watch and remembered that carpool in Efrat was 215pm. I phoned her from the miklat and there was no answer. As the bus driver and I heard the ‘boom’ of the missile explosion’s noise reverberating not too far away near Bat Ayin, again hitting an Arab vilage, the all clear sounds began to be heard.
The kids were then escorted back to the bus, all traumatized, and David, an 8year old, asked me if it was a real attack?
My daughter showed up in front of our home with her carpool of five -4yr. olds from their nursery school. I opened the car door and looked at my grandson, and asked if he was ok and heard the noise? I did not know but my daughter, following rules, had to get the five kids out of her car, stop the car, and lay them flat heads down on the sidewalk in Efrat during the siren. My grandson told me “Can I come to Saba’s house?” I took him from my daughter’s car and he came to us, as my daughter continued her carpool while calling the other moms that the kids were OK?
We played for an hour after my grandson ‘forgot’ about the siren, perhaps, I asked him, “were you afraid of the siren?” “No, Saba, Hashem Yishmor Oti” – “G-d will guard and watch me”.
I took out my old sunglasses and windshield wipers attached to it and put them on during the daylight that did not need sunglasses. I did not want my future soldier grandson to see Saba shedding some tears. I looked up to the sky and symbolically whispered to my mother who was passed away on just after Rosh Hashana, as a survivor of the kindertransport of 1939, and asked her, “Mom did you hear what your great grandson just told me?”