The Ninth Day

From that moment on, your life is changed.

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Noam Bedein

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When the Chabad Rabbi of Sderot, Chaim Pizen, viewed the damage on Sinai Street in Sderot, the day after the eight-day holiday of Chanukah, he remarked, "The miracles that we are seeing in Sderot have revealed themselves more clearly than the miracles we witnessed on Mount Sinai itself."

Our crew arrived at the Amar family home at 7:00 am on Friday morning, the day after a Kassam rocket had crashed through the roof and passed straight through the kitchen, slamming into the Sasson family's backyard.

We always arrive the morning after a rocket attack, to the sight of debris spread throughout a home, hours before appraisers appear to evaluate the damage.

Pinchas, the father, was chain smoking and walking through the ruins of his kitchen as I opened the door to his home. There is a gaping hole in the roof. His kitchen has been shattered. Here is a father in his own home, the place he feels most secure, where he lived a normal Jewish life. His family is not with him. His wife, Aliza, just recovering from a stroke as a result of a previous attack, is back in the hospital being treated for trauma and injuries.

The camera tries to grasp details that say everything: the different Jewish symbols that in some miraculous way have survived the explosion; the hamsa good luck charms; the pictures of rabbis; Sabbath candles; a collection of holy books in a glass case that remains intact; and the menorah that the family had lit for the past eight days, lying unscathed on the mantle overlooking the entrance to their home.

The Sasson family, the Amar's neighbors, came by while we were there.

"How is Shula?" I asked Moshe Sasson, remembering that his wife Shula was also injured on Thursday night.

"She's still pretty shaken up, in the hospital, with high blood pressure, probably going to stay there for the Shabbat for observation. She might have serious brain damage, from the trauma and anxiety."

I remembered their son, Avidan, and his words the night before, still wearing his army uniform: "I got a phone call while I was at the base telling me that my mother had been evacuated to the hospital, unconscious. I started to run towards the nearest junction to catch a ride."

This was Avidan's first Shabbat at home since leaving the army. How absurd, joining the army to serve and protect your country, while not being able to protect your own mother and family.

Our first visit to the Sasson family was two weeks ago, when we accompanied EuroNews reporters who wanted to experience a night in a Sderot home. The Sassons have been staying in their living room for the past year - parents and five children. The Sassons have a beautiful home with two floors, but they don't have enough time to run downstairs from the second floor in 15 seconds.

Their son Rafi built a protected shelter for his younger brother in the middle of the living room with money that he got when he was released from the army, since the Sassons do not have a protected room in the house.

"Rafi has a very close relationship with Aziel, ever since Aziel was 8 years old and a Kassam rocket landed nearby, while he was playing in the soccer field. Rafi always felt the need to protect him." Shula told me. "Five years later, Aziel is still in therapy."

Shula was pointing outside, at the small swimming pool that Moshe and the boys built in the back yard: "We don't go outside anymore, so we try living as much as possible at
We accompanied EuroNews reporters who wanted to experience a night in a Sderot home.
home. The truth is I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep going like this."

"Why don't you leave your home, leave Sderot?" I asked her.

"We have nowhere we can go, with five children.... Real estate went down over 50%. Who would be willing to buy or rent a home in Sderot, and with the money we get, can we offered any home to go to? This past May, after a Kassam barrage, we and ten other families from the neighborhood bought tents and went camping on Lake Kinneret for a week. How long can we live in tents?"

The Sasson and Amar families live on the Sinai Street. Ohel Yitzchak Synagogue is two homes down. This is the same synagogue that suffered a direct hit this past May from a Kassam rocket, which destroyed the reception hall. Four hundred people had celebrated a new Torah scroll being brought into the synagogue 28 minutes beforehand, in memory of Sderot resident Yitzhak Dahan, who had passed away exactly one year earlier. One member the Dahan family had just cleaned the reception hall that was hit and had locked it. They all ran for shelter when the warning siren went off.

As a reporter, I keep asking my self: How many stories can one tell and write about?

There are endless stories of Kassam rockets exploding. Every single family in Sderot has experienced the explosion of a rocket nearby. From that moment on, your life is changed, as my own has been as a resident of Sderot during the past year and a half.

What else is there to do, with an army of 20,000 Hamas soldiers in Gaza with 130 tons of ammunition waiting for the right time to strike Sderot's homes, many of which are not protected?

Publicizing the miracle of survival through writing, filming and taking pictures - that is what we must do. To record the human effects of merciless attacks on innocent people, instead of listening to the drab Israeli newscast: "A Kassam fell on a home in Sderot today. Two people were lightly injured and taken to the hospital. And in sports news...."

After hearing the human stories of what people are going through, perhaps people in Israel and around the world will open up their hearts and homes to the people of the western Negev.

It is too early too tell what kind of an effect will be felt in Sderot, and in Israel, after EuroNews, with a TV audience of 200 million, shows an eight-minute segment portraying what is occurring here.


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