From my home in Jerusalem to your home in Ottawa

By Ned Steinman

How does it feel living in a country under attack? In one word, surreal. On Monday I was walking to the corner pizza shop (a glorious hole in the wall that is quite well known in our neighbourhood, run by a young guy and his brothers from France where we speak a mix of French and Hebrew) when suddenly a siren is heard in the distance. An older woman sitting on a bench is guided indoors by her worried daughter whilst saying, “mom, it will be okay, it’s just safer inside.” Although, Hamas stated that they were going to fire rockets towards Jerusalem, we had a hard time believing that to be true.

Eventually we got the pizza and as planned, made our way to the home of our son, daughter-in-law, and our favourite person, our soon-to-be 2-year-old grandson Moshe. We quickly took account of the other kids, our son who lives near Tel Aviv, and our daughter who is visiting from New York and was visiting friends in Haifa. Everyone was safe and in a secure place, but immediately, concurrently really, you start to worry about your fellow citizens. Will anyone be hurt? Will anyone lose their life? What will this mean for the country? As our rabbi mentioned in his speech at synagogue on Shabbat, it doesn’t matter in what direction a rocket is launched, when a rocket is meant to hit somewhere in Israel, it intends to damage us all. We are all the targets; we are all under threat.

As the week progressed with more aggressive attacks, we watch the news in disbelief. Why are there so many rockets from Gaza? You cannot help but worry, yet you see how life does continue. I have been asked a lot about our day-to-day lives during this time inquiring whether we must remain indoors all the time. The true nature and spirit of the Israeli are most evident at this time; life goes on. Sitting in a café in Jerusalem is not considered disrespectful to our brethren under constant attack, they expect those of us with the ability to carry on to just do so. Preparing for Shabbat and Chag, the stores were full, full of incredible offerings for the holidays, the freshest fruits and vegetables imaginable, countless cheesecakes and sweets, and an array of flowers, a beauty that is brought to us from every corner of this little land.

So, we are fine, our people are strong and resilient, we feel protected.

Now, what can you do? No matter where you stand on these issues, you can still reach out to us in Israel with a greeting, letting us know you are thinking of us in these difficult moments. We have received so many kind words from friends and family abroad, keep that coming … it keeps us connected.

- Ned Steinman is a former Ottawan, now living in the German Colony, Jerusalem, Israel.