Yesterday I went with my husband to visit someone in the Ashkelon prison. Well, actually, I went shopping at a nearby strip mall. My husband went into the prison itself. I wasn't allowed to go in and see Jeffrey, the Hillbilly I interviewed once on my radio show, who made aliyah. (He's in prison for bringing his gun he had in the USA, into Israel, without first registering it and getting permission.) For some reason, according to Jeffrey, the Shabak(Israel's Security Service), has barred me from visiting Jeffrey. Only my husband can go in.
Am I such a dangerous person that the Shabak won't let me see Jeffrey? Hmmm. Anyway, the drive to the prison is over an hour away from our home, so I continue to accompany my husband on the trip.
I feel bad about not being able to visit with Jeffrey. However, I have to admit, I always feel so dirty after going to the prison. The police frisk you, and I mean, they really feeeeeeeeeeel you out. Even though they are female cops, it is extremely uncomfortable and icky as they rub their hands all over your body in places you would normally slap a person if they touched you there. So, I got to miss 'that part' yesterday. It was ok with me. More than ok. Yeech! Instead, my husband dropped me off just before the turn off to the prison, and I looked around at some shops. I figured I could visit the Ace Hardware store and see if they had any plastic chairs to purchase for our Sukkah.
After my husband finished his visit with Jeffrey (he has maximum another year and a half more to serve) he picked me up and away we headed back for home via Jerusalem. On the trip back, we passed a road sign for Sderot. You know Sderot. That's the city in the news because they have thousands of Kassam rockets slamming into their homes, schools, and places all over their pockmarked city.
A school with a protective covering over it to protect it from Kassam rockets.
I had been to Sderot a few times already in the recent past, but my husband suggested we detour and take a ride there, do some shopping (I didn't buy any plastic chairs in Ashkelon) and help support them in their time of need.
And so, away we went, about a 15 minute detour, but the roads were beautiful country/farm land roads. Here's a short clip I took with my cell phone for you.
I looked at my husband and told him, I AM NOT scared, but you know that we both can die if a kassam missile is shot at us. (When I went to Sderot the last few times, I went with the A-7 crew, not my other half, so I knew my kids would have one parent left if anything were to happen, but this time we were a 'two for one' kassam bargain). He said he knows, but he wants to go and support them.
We ended up shopping in a few stores, and dropped a little over $50. Not a lot, but it was a spur of the moment shopping, and they didn't have the plastic chairs I was looking for.
We ran into a wonderful shop keeper where we dropped most of our money. He was a 70 year old man, a war veteran of the 6 Day War, and won a very special award for his brave and heroic service in defending us from the Egyptian army. He has a small hardware and 'chachka' store. He told us, that when he bought the store way back when, he purchased it for 13 lirot. You have to be an old time Israeli to appreciate that.
Scattered chaotically around Sderot are newly placed portable bomb shelters to shield against missile attacks. This one (above) is near the entrance to Sderot.
And this one here closer to the center says, "We are not 'soog bet' (second rate)." And, "Is our blood different than yours?"
Now, back home, the holiday of Yom Kippur, The Day Of Atonement, is looming ahead. I know this is a holiday which shows us how much G-d loves us, that he will forgive our sins against him if we fast and approach Him with true, sincere repentance, then why I am still so scared and dreading the day? It?s not just the fast, it?s the standing and standing in shul (synagogue), with nothing to distract me like a movie, or a good book, or just working at the computer, to make the fast pass quicker. It is a time of intense prayer, deep introspection, and much soul work. It is exhausting physically as well as emotionally. We beat our chests as we confess all the sins we have committed. We know that the gates of Heaven are closing as we recite the Neila prayer. We realize that Hashem, G-d, is writing in the book of life, who will live, who will die? It's actually very daunting. I am speaking from the point of view of a simple Jew, not a great mystic.
For us peon Jews, even though Yom Kippur is a gift to us from G-d, and we come away from it feeling relieved, hopeful, and strengthened, the ordeal is just so scary. And it doesn't matter how old I get. At 47, I should know better, and I actually do. But the child-like fear I probably will forever harbor is still eating at me, and scares me more than the Kassams.
Yes, I am being unbelievably vulnerable. I admit it. Yom Kippur scares the eebie-geebies out of me. But this is the time of year to be truthful, confess, tackle the truth of our lives, and overcome the hurdles. Am I alone on this, or are some of you reading this feeling the same thing? We know intellectually that Yom Kippur is a wonderful and loving gesture from G-d. But still.... I shudder.
This year, I shall overcome my hurdles. I shall fast like I always do. I shall stand in synagogue as my legs are killing me <grin>, I shall face my sins, pray to G-d that He forgive me, and pray that He gives me the tools and the strength to serve Him better in the future. And like usual, I shall come out of Yom Kippur, a better person, having lived and learned, and refined myself. I will be happy that I lasted the whole time, I will feel hopeful and clean spiritually. I will realize that the fast really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and I will be happy.
And then I will think to myself, "My brothers and sisters in Sderot had to fast, stand in shul, pray all day, AND have the threat of Kassam missiles crash into them."
You know, we really don't have it so bad.