Every little bit

by | Oct 16, 2023

Day 10

I’m finally sleeping better. I guess in some ways I’ve grown a little numb to the buzzing of my phone and the horrors of last Shabbat have begun to get duller around the edges – if that’s a thing. It appears that the massacre was so horrific that it’s caused global leaders’ humanity to overtake their normal apathy and even bias against Israel, meaning that we are getting support (or at least not being condemned) in ways that Israel has never before experienced. So I guess I’m not feeling the threat of complete annihilation the way I was last week, and that’s relieved some of my anxiety. Last week I was paralyzed, this week I’m just very (very) distracted.

On the homefront, Israel has a new superhero – a woman named Rachel, a 65-year-old woman who lived in one of the kibbutzim that was massacred. She survived because she speaks Arabic and when the terrorists came into her home she conversed with them and gave them food and drink, and even bandaged one of the terrorist’s hands. It’s amazing, and it’s a miracle, for sure. Her presence of mind and ingenuity saved her life, but I’m a little ambivalent about the whole thing. I know that in a similar situation I couldn’t have done it, but also, not everyone had the advantage of speaking Arabic, and she lucked out that the terrorists who entered her home were maybe ever so slightly more humane than the rest? Who knows. Was she brave? Absolutely. Is she a role model? I don’t think so. And I don’t believe that anyone should think, even for a split second, that those who did not survive were somehow less. Less brave, less deserving, or less loved by God.

Today is turning out to be a much more productive day work-wise. The added sleep and lower anxiety means I’m able to focus on work a little better. I’m still distracted by everything going on in my community, and by the news, but still. At the end of the day I managed to actually put in a full day’s hours – that’s a first since before Sukkot, which is now over 2 weeks ago.

While on lunch break I check my social media. Someone has posted that the cheap clothing retailer “Shein” was selling palestinian flags on their site. Shein is a very popular place for Israelis to order from and obviously this news causes an uproar. So the company removed the flags from their Israeli site, but not from any of the others. I would boycott them, as many are now choosing to do, but I don’t buy from them anyway. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.

Apparently the farmers in Israel, especially those in the area around Gaza, are suffering. A sign up form is going around our community to buy fresh pineapples from a farmer. I sign up. It happens to be that I absolutely LOVE fresh pineapple. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite fruit, but it’s a completely different fruit from the canned pineapple I grew up with. In the US they are affordable, here they are a luxury. The prices being offered are reasonable for Israel, but still way too much money under ordinary circumstances – about $10 per large pineapple. But I decided at the beginning of the war that one way I’m going to support the war is by supporting the local economy, so I order a small box of pineapples.

I am EXTREMELY grateful for the fact that both my husband and I still have work. He works for an international company, and though I work for an Israeli company, 99% of our clients are in the US and Canada, so we still have work and income. As long as that is the case, I will use my money to help my brothers and sisters who do not have that benefit. Many businesses are suffering right now. Besides the fact that a HUGE percentage of our economy is driven by tourism – hotels, restaurants, charter buses and tour guides – people are not spending money on things they normally would. Who is buying new clothes when we are having trouble finding bottled water? Why would I spend money to go to a restaurant when I can spend it sending toothbrushes and warm socks to soldiers giving their lives to protect me? Our community has actually sent out a message asking people to make sure to support our businesses – to go out and shop. Suffering comes in many forms, and if there are any that I can alleviate, I will do my best. I hope others will too.

I stop work a little early (I’ll put in a few hours after dinner) in order to cook for my DIL and kids. Normally, I try to avoid cooking real food during the week. Working full-time uses up pretty much all the energy – both physical and mental – that I have, so dinner is kept very simple. Usually I’m just reheating leftovers from Shabbat. Occasionally we order out, and the rest of the time it’s veggie burgers of one variety or another and some easy to make starch like ramen or french fries. Vegetables consist of easy-to-prepare fresh veggies, or if I’m feeling industrious, an actual salad.

But tonight we are hosting DIL and kids for dinner – to help ease things a little, and to give DIL some adult conversation and a change of scenery. I make spaghetti – keeping the plain pasta separate from the sauce and I cut up a huge bowl of cucumbers and a smaller bowl of cherry tomatoes. My DIL brings some frozen shaped chicken nuggets, because…kids. We are vegetarian, the only animal product I buy is free-range eggs, so when my kids come, they bring meat for the kids, who are just, well…kids.

After the kids all leave, I head back to my desk to get some more work done. And of course, I make the mistake of checking the news. The number of dead keep rising, as more bodies are discovered during army maneuvers and the number of hostages believed to be being held in Gaza is over 200. 20% of them are children and elderly. Not wanting to go there, I move over to watching a tv show online. It takes my mind off of the situation, and I don’t have the spoons to keep working at this point.

As I’m finally shutting down my computer to head to bed, my DIL messages the family that my son has arrived home from base.His unit commander is going to try rotating them in and out. I’m not sure if this will happen every week, but he’s home for a week now, barring any unusual or unexpected turn of events.

It’s good news. Not only for my DIL and the kids – because they get to have Abba home, but also, it’s an opportunity for us to make sure my son has all the supplies he needs. Unlike my SIL, my son is stationed in the field – literally. It’s cold, damp, muddy, and has no structures. I try not to imagine my son having to endure that, and just be grateful he’s home for the next few days.

Written by Penina Taylor

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First thing I do is check my phone. Is everyone ok? And then the news sites. And then I make a mistake that I make over and over again – I check social media.

On my Instagram feed there’s a famous speaker and author that I really respect speaking out about what’s happened here. Amazing. I knew this guy was great. But then I make the real mistake. I look at the comments. NEVER ever look at the comments. I know this. I know there’s a lot of awful people out there.

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I closed my eyes and had barely drifted off to that place that feels so good when I was awakened again by a very loud jet. This one wasn’t as close as the first one, but super loud. Enough louder than the air traffic we’ve been hearing 24/7 for the past 3 days that it woke me up. I squinted to check the time, without my glasses on, and really still ¾ asleep, that was not an easy task…3:18. Wait…what? Only three minutes since the last one? I must be mistaken.

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I managed to get a few hour’s sleep. Not enough to function well, though. I’ve got to get more work done or this month is going to be hard in more ways than one. I check Facebook again to see if I can mark myself safe in the crisis – this will help lower the amount of people asking me if we are okay. I appreciate the concern, and it’s heartening knowing that so many people care about my welfare, but it’s hard to answer everyone. Facebook still hasn’t listed the war as an option and I am livid. There are ways of doing this that don’t have to be about “taking sides”, but ignoring the situation is abominable. Nope, still no option.

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Drawn like a moth to light, I cannot put down my phone. I cannot shut down my computer. What’s the latest count? Who has been found? The booms continue, although much more distant now. The buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz of my phone has a few more minutes between each set. But it’s 1:30 am and I have to work in the morning. So reluctantly I head to bed. Sleep is fitful, but I’m exhausted.

I get up, get dressed, as usual. I get my coffee and sit down to work. One website…just one…no, I need to work. I try to work. But websites and LinkedIn profiles seem so trivial at the moment. I am so distracted.

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