LIfe in Efrat, Israel


LIfe in Efrat, Israel


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My Ears Awake and My Eyes Are Opened

By Miriam Lock

I often wake up in the morning and tell myself that I will not read the paper that we have delivered to our doorstop. Not yet. I will not become absorbed with the words and images of hurt and hate so early in the day. I will not look at the pictures of the daily horror.

First, I will have my coffee, go out onto my porch and look out at the view of the Judean hills from my backyard. I will listen to the birds that sing every morning as they fly from tree to tree. I will come back into the kitchen and get breakfast ready for my youngest son who is still sleeping and has to get up for school. I will turn on the radio only to listen to soft, mild music.

I will read later. I will read and see and listen. It can not be avoided. This is the reality of Israel.

I wait awhile and do everyday things that are important to me. I glance at my bulletin board where I have attached a copy of one of my favorite poems, the one that reminds me to say "modeh ani" (the prayer that is said upon awakening in the morning). The poem is by e.e. cummings and it goes like this:

i thank you G-d for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirit of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any - limited from the no
of all nothing - human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
the eyes of my eyes are opened)

For just a few minutes, I will listen to singing birds and music, look out at the hills surrounding Efrat. It is the birds and the hills and knowing that this beautiful place is our home that gives me strength to cope in such terrible times.

The last few weeks the terror has been increasing with a speed and intensity that cannot be compared to anything we have experienced before, and we have experienced a great deal. The most recent tragedies include the murders of two women from Efrat as they drove on the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem road; the slaughter of two young boys from Tekoa a few minutes from their homes; continued shooting and mortar attacks on Gush Katif settlements and Gilo; bombs in Netanya, Hadera, Kfar Saba; and this past Friday night, when a suicide-bomber blew himself up while waiting in line among a crowd of teenagers at a Tel Aviv disco. Nineteen have died, and a more are dangling between life and death as I write these words. Most of the murdered young people were olim, new immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

I heard the news about the Friday night bomb in Tel Aviv as I walked into our synagogue on Shabbat morning. Someone had left a radio on during Shabbat in order to hear the news.

In a few minutes, the whole congregation knew the painful story. We heard the terrible news and continued to pray. It is in prayer that we can find some strength to cope with what is happening near our homes every day.

We travel on the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem tunnel road all the time. Our car windows are covered with protective glass that is stone proof, but in a shooting attack such special windows would not protect us. To have a car bulletproofed would cost as much as buying two or even three new cars! And only certain types of cars can be bulletproofed. It is clear that the average family cannot afford this. Many people take Egged busses that have been bulletproofed since the most recent attacks have begun. But many people do not want to give up driving their own cars. People need their cars during the day for work or other purposes. More importantly, people should not have to give up driving their own cars because of dangers on the road.

Two of my children travel to Jerusalem every day. My son is a high school student and my daughter is doing her sherut leumi (national service) in a preschool in Jerusalem. In the past months, they have gotten stuck numerous times when the road was closed because of shooting in Gilo or on the road itself. Every day about five or five-thirty I worry. Are the kids going to get home safely? Every day I feel the anxiety - what will happen today? Who will be next?

Despite everything, we go on with our everyday lives. We go to work and we take care of our families. We do our laundry, go shopping and worry about our bank accounts. We celebrate births, bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings. We mourn people who die in old age.

This is what is happening in Israel today. We are struggling for survival. The weeks and months ahead are certain to be a pivotal point in Jewish history, and we must all keep our eyes and ears open, as well as our hearts and our minds.

Efrat in Snow

Photographs were taken by Jerry Lock.


from the July 2001 Edition of the Jewish Magazine




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