Op-Ed: Katif Bloc Viewpoint: Sabbath Siren
Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dkalim/NitzanBefore her community´s expulsion from Gush Katif, Rachel Saperstein was a teacher at the N´vei Dekalim ulpana and a spokeswoman for the Katif Regional Council.
Rachel and Moshe Saperstein were expelled from their beautiful home in Neve Dkalim in the Katif Bloc in 2006, along with 8000 other loyal Israeli citizens. Their home has still not been built due to bureaucratic hurdles, and they, and others in their situation, live in caravans in NItzan - still waiting for a real home. They publish the Katif Bloc Viewpoint and are active in helping other expellees. They can be reached at email@example.com
I've often wondered why my husband Moshe and I get so few visitors. Are people avoiding us? Our Sabbath table is set only for two. We have always had a busy social life, with visitors and people dropping in for meals. Suddenly, no takers.
With great pleasure we welcomed our son and daughter-in-law and three [out of now six] grandchildren. Beds were made ready. Moshe did his grand shopping. I prepared the chicken soup and noodles. Fresh apples mixed with strawberries bubbled on the stove top ready to be whisked into a sauce. Cabbage was cut and carrots and peppers were grated for my home-made coleslaw.
The children arrived and ate a hearty pre-Sabbath lunch of sliced meats and mustard on freshly cut chalah.
Efrat and I lit the Sabbath candles and the men folk went to our synagogue. Chana, the youngest, made for the jigsaw puzzles and began to put the pieces together. I opened my prayer book, thanking the Almighty that the children were with us. The men came home and we began singing 'Shalom Aleichem', the beautiful melody with which we welcome the Sabbath angels. Clearly the evening was blessed. Or so I thought…
We went to bed filled with the joy of seeing our table crowded with family, eating and singing and saying words of Torah, enjoying each others company. The grandchildren are growing up. Our children have done a splendid job of raising bright and charming children of their ow
At 1:30am the peace of the Sabbath is broken by the shrill sound of an air raid siren. We got the youngsters up. We have ten seconds to get to the sewer pipe in our cul de sac which, for lack of a real shelter, has to serve. This is the first time our guests have experienced this unearthly sound. We get them into slippers, throw jackets around them, and run outside. The siren continues to wail. We meet one of our neighbors sitting alone in the dark sewer pipe.
We wait for the explosion. We are tensed up. Our sewer pipe will not protect us against a direct hit. Do I tell the children I am in fear for them? I don't dare show them my fear. I marvel that Gush Katif families brought up their children under five stressful years of continuous rocket and mortar attacks. Five years in Gush Katif and two wars in the south.
There is no explosion. We return to our caravilla. It is 2:30AM. The youngsters are shaken and we talk about the experience.
"You'll have what to tell your friends when you get back to school" I say.
"But there was no explosion" one grandchild says.
"It's still scary" says a second.
"Can we have some muffins?" they shout in unison.
We begin a pre-dawn party, then put the youngsters to bed. Slippers and coats at the ready in case we need them again. The siren heard here and in Ashkelon was apparently a false alarm. But we know it won't be long before the alarms are real.
I understand why no one visits us.