The recent terror attacks that took place in a synagogue in Jerusalem have led me to reflect on my own experience in witnessing Israel’s resilience to terrorism this past summer. Tragically, these innocent people were killed simply for being Jewish. Their lives were brutally taken away from them while they were reciting their daily prayers in synagogue. Despite all these heinous attacks, Israel continues to keep going with the motivation of obtaining peace and tranquility.
During the past school year, what kept me motivated was counting down the days until I would be in Israel for the summer. Land of milk, honey, and hummus: my true home. I arrived in Israel the day that their bodies were found: Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal, the three innocent Israeli boys who were brutally murdered simply because they were Jewish. I arrived there with the feeling that I had come to one of my close family member’s funeral. I witnessed the phenomenon of a whole nation mourning the boys’ deaths, even without knowing them personally. As tensions grew high on both sides of the conflict, many attacks were launched on Israel. I was in awe with how the Israeli people were able to stay strong and keep their lives moving forward, despite all the chaos and turmoil manifesting around them.
Daily life went on as usual for the Israeli people because they would not allow such heinous acts to intimidate them. That is not to say they are unaffected by the attacks; their lives are disrupted on a daily basis due to the missiles, and children grow up with the awareness of bomb shelters — something that doesn’t even cross our minds living here in the United States.
One day, as I was walking through the hustle and bustle of the lively Shuk Ha’Carmel in Tel Aviv, a siren went off. The events that would unfold next were awe-inspiring to witness. In that moment, I feared for my life and felt petrified. I froze and did not know what to do until I felt a hand tugging on my sleeve, pulling me into the nearest shelter. Around me I saw elderly people being guided, and confused and terrified children being rushed to safety. People were not concerned with scrambling to get themselves safely into a bomb shelters first, but rather their first concern was to help all those around them to get safely into the bomb shelters. Surrounded by strangers, we waited anxiously until we heard the boom of the Iron Dome intercepting the missile. Oddly enough, I felt safe among all the chaos due to the resilient Israeli people, the protection of the Israeli government, and the technology of the Iron Dome.
Throughout my time in Israel, I kept receiving calls and texts from family and friends urging me to come home; however I felt that I needed to be there and could not leave. The way in which the nation of Israel came together in this time to help one another was phenomenal. People would drive to all corners of Israel to have clothes, food, and any other necessary items delivered to the bases for the soldiers. The resilience and strength Israel exhibits despite all these tragedies is truly awe inspiring. The solidarity of the nation I witnessed during this past summer adds to why Israel stands strong today, and how it is a necessary homeland for the Jewish people.