Things were finally starting to look up for those of us in Tel Aviv. It had been two days with no alarms sounding that rockets were coming in from Gaza. Our beautiful Jerusalem had been targeted and hit, severe damage was caused when a rocket fell in Rishon Letzion (just outside of Tel Aviv), and a soldier and citizen were killed in the south in a rocket attack, but Tel Aviv remained quiet. I can only guess that the quiet we experienced, the brief hiatus from thinking that every odd sound from wind to car alarms was an alert to run and hide, was the silence that is heard before the actual storm...
I was in my Ulpan class thoroughly engrossed in my studies when a classmate said she heard a rumor that a bomb went off somewhere in Tel Aviv. Everyone checked their phones and various news outlets but nothing seemed to have happened; at least nothing was reported. Only a few minutes later, in the midst of our lesson, did another teacher come in telling us to stop what we were doing and call everyone we know to let them know we were safe, and to check and make sure that our loved ones were ok. A bomb had gone off on a bus in the center of Tel Aviv. 21 people were injured, 4 critically. My heart sank. I discovered that the bomb went off on a bus that was traveling down Weitzman Street at the corner of Shaul Hamelech. I know this doesn't mean anything to most of you, but that is on my exact route home from my ulpan. In fact, just yesterday I was riding my bike through that exact spot to get home. I was shaking I was so scared. I immediately tried to get ahold of Stephane and Ida but, of course, the phones weren't working. I texted each of them, received texts and messages from friends and my roommates checking to see what was going on with everyone, and I finally got through to discover that both Ida and Stephane were unharmed.
|Photo from the scene of the attack|
A few minutes later I received a call from Stephane's mom and found out that both she and Stephane's little brother were safe and unharmed. All I could do was thank God that everyone I love was ok. Since I had spent the night at Stephane's last night, and when this happens and his mother takes me to class I take a bus home since I am without my bike, I had no idea what to do or how to get home. Many of the roads to my house were blocked, there was a police and army pursuit for the two suspects who put the bomb on the bus (it was not a suicide bombing), and I was scared to death to even be on the roads at all considering that this bomb went off right near where I live. There were a few people from my Ulpan class who live near me who decided to walk so I thought it would be a very good idea to join them and go as a group. As I was walking, however, I received a message from Stephane's mom telling me to stay where I was because she was coming to get me. I was so relieved and happy that I wanted to cry. I have no family here and when a tragedy like this happens it is the best feeling in the world to know that you have people who want to help take care of you. I may be almost 25 but I still need family, so, while I can't have mine, I have the best alternative in the world with Stephane, his mother, and his little brother.
Stephane was picked up first, then I was taken from the Ulpan, and then we went to get his little brother. Once we were all together I was a bit more relaxed, and then I was fine once learning that Ida was safe and sound, but it was one of the most emotionally trying days I have ever had. Tensions were high, everyone was scared out of their minds, and the whole mood of the city changed. My Ulpan teacher made an interesting comment after news of the bomb had broken. She seemed worried but said "this is Israel. This is our life here. It is scary but we have to keep living". We have to keep living... I know many people have expressed concern over my decision to stay here during such a time of turmoil, but to abandon Israel now is not even an option for me. In the wake of disaster you see just how amazing this tiny, little country and her citizens truly are, and there is no place I feel more safe or more protected than I do here in Israel. Here is where my life has purpose, meaning, love, passion, excitement, and so much more, and to run away from that would be madness. I am so touched by every message I have received from friends near and far, and assure you that I am doing everything to remain as safe as possible. Your caring, kind words have brightened my life during a very dark time here in Israel, and I can't find the words to express my gratitude at your thoughts and prayers for the safety of myself, my loved ones, and my country.
Please pray for Israel. She, unfortunately, is an underdog in a world of people who love to hate her. But let me tell you about Israel. This country would do anything for its citizens who in turn would give their lives to protect her. The people of this country may be tough and have strong characters, but if you ever needed anything, most people here would open their homes to a stranger with no questions asked for the simple pleasure of giving help to someone in need. Yes Israel is a military state, and yes she fights hard, but if she didn't she wouldn't exist. This is the homeland of every Jew in the world, and though it is a Jewish state, Christians and Muslims live freely, and flourish, within her borders, side by side with Jews from all over the world. It is a true paradise, my home, and the most special, wonderful country in the world. Pray for us all, they are prayers and support that we desperately need.
Until we meet again <3,