Are things normal?

Hi Dad it was lovely to talk. l was amazed to hear that you heard that here in Israel life goes on as usual. l think l was shocked to hear that. l am sure you are following the news. I am sure you have heard what happened and is happening here. As you have social media and a smartphone l really couldn’t take in your comment that you heard everything here ,really is normal.

Let me say firstly that many people l know or who are in my family spend their days in Kollel, in the Jerusalem area, and yes we know a war is going on underway against us all. M S’s Kollel has been going to the bomb shelter, and every day Tehillim are said and completed for our country. l am speaking of a kollel where people are not usually people know what is going on in the greater world. My husband’s chevrusa, not a young man, is learning how to update his gun skills and use a machine gun.Is everything normal?

School was cancelled at the beginning unless it was for the special education students who would have a bomb shelter to go to. Slowly school is returning to normal. This time round Tel Aviv and central Israel (Petach Tikva, Rehovot) is bombed by barrages of rockets, as is Ashkelon, and places near Gaza. Beit Shemesh has been relatively quiet, BH, and being a large place mostly uninterrupted from daily life, (food, school, buses).

But there is a lack in the shops buses less frequent and some places closed because of the war. Lots of life is interconnected, so parts for repairing things, and documentation for regular life is on hold,(car licenses, passports).
Many people are evacuated from their homes, many fathers are called up, (l think about 300 000, at present) farmers need help collecting produce and manually picking food.(We don’t have a TV, but l know from my students it’s on 24/7with very little in the way of entertainment. Its war, and news mainly all day).

Doctors appointments if they are for specialist appointments harder to get, and at night even Beit Shemesh is much much quieter with people staying home, mainly.

There are many men walking around with rifles everywhere to make us feel safer. Outside my school we have in addition to the guards, police all day, yesterday we had soldiers in place of police. Helicopters are overhead , drones are more noticeable at night, and ofcourse at night we hear planes going overhead.

Young children have all been practicing going to a bomb shelter or safe room,and they make siren noises in their play, whilst other children are panicking over any loud unexplained noise.

It is tense here, people’s brothers, sisters, fathers, sons ,daughters,some mothers are all involved in active army, and we all feel the strangeness of our situation. Pictures of hostages abound in our malls, on our streets, on billboards, on cars and buses, their images stare back at us as we drive to work or walk about.Babes in arms, children, and elderly look out at us, everyday people.

I’m not even talking about the media , the discussions of what actually happened.There are an abundance whatsapp groups with photos and reports, constantly updating us,if we so want, with differing levels of language and photos.Horror and mutilation beyond belief is not something l will allow my eyes ever to see. But it is there in conversation and even Zaka people, all Chareidi have to speak about what they have seen , and experienced, one collapsed and hadto be hospitalised.
Unprecedented, Rabbis who were always for quiet moderation have written letters asking and telling the army it is a mitzvah to bomb the enemy’s hospitals no matter….I wanted to write because l feel so much has happened here, and is happening here that no matter what ,you should not be misled by feeling it is normal here. It is only normal here if you live in a vacuum and stay there.

If you have no one serving, or volunteering, and no media or news it could be like that, normal; but really l dont see how.
Talk everywhere of bomb shelters, and soldiers, captive hostages, safety, and achdus.Chassidim have been making food and delivering it to the men at the front, dancing with evacuees delivering ,serving food to soldiers,hugging , singing, photos and meetings with people who would never meet before, except in a protest.

Round the clock making Tzizit, for the 150 000 non tzizit wearing soldiers , who have requested them and are jubilant to receive them.People who never wear anything religious, with tattoos and bare heads, hugging yeshiva boys, and telling them they are fighting so they can learn.A son of mine in Mir, feels that he must praise every soldier he can if there’s an opportunity. At a traffic light he saw one, on his way somewhere. He called out to him to thank him for his service, and to ask him his name, so he could thank him properly. This soldier heaped praise on him for learning, and asked him for a blessing. My son said he wanted the soldier’s blessing, as he is willing to sacrifice all for his fellow Jew. By the time the two had finished arguing who would bless who, my son’s friend pulled over the car, so as not to block the traffic.
Another small vignette:

Another son was in a dati leumi shul, with a complete cross section of Chareidi men/boys making Tzizit with some chareidim who never would go to such a shul normally. One of these was a Chareidi who was super quick at making Tzizit, my son went over and asked him how he could make kosher tzizit so quickly.He examined one of them, saw it was beautifully done, and the he said this was what he does for parnossa, he showed my son his technique so he could make more Tzizit, quicker for our soldiers.

Please feel free to share this.Its important for people to know that ofcourse Tehillim and davening and round the clock learning and shiurim are going on, but usual life and normal….Israelis love normal; and try and normalise what can’t be normal….evacuees living in hotels, children at home seeing that daddy went away in green clothes.

I could go on and on.The challah baking, food donations,clothing donations, furniture donations, people finding creative ways to give, psychologists donating time.(A restaurant here has closed its doors as a restaurant and is making subway style sandwiches all day till 3 for soldiers and delivering them to the front using only volunteers.)All of us, including children ….we are doing our best for all the people around us but are things normal, no they are not.

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