My First Siren

Editor’s Note: In addition to inflicting physical damage, the goal of the recurring missile attacks on Israel from the neighboring Gaza Strip is to inflict mental anguish. The following is a post from Taryn Simon (who recently authored a blog post opening up about her mental health) reflecting on her experiences coping with being in the middle of the most recent missile barrage.

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I woke up on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM to the sounds of rocket sirens. I followed the woman who was hosting me for Shabbat down the flights of stairs to their bomb shelter where the rest of their family was waiting. We stood there awkwardly in our pajamas for ten minutes, registering what had just happened. As the minutes passed, my body began to visibly shake because I was internalizing what was happening. Rockets were being shot at the area that I was in, and I was in serious danger of being hit by the shrapnel.


After the ten minutes were over since the siren, we were allowed to go out. We went to get ready and continue about our day. The rest of the day was completely normal, until after Shabbat ended, and we found out what the situation at hand was.



Assessing The Damage

Once I was able to check the news, I found out that over 200 rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza. Although there was only one siren that morning where I was staying, many other rockets were shot into areas near us and southern Israel.


Immediately, I thought of my great aunt and uncle who live in Gedera, where many were shot. Seeing in the news that one had hit a building there, I called them immediately. Thank God they were okay, but they too were watching the news and were speaking to family and friends. I also checked in on my family friends in Ashkelon, which is very close to the Gaza border and often receives a lot of their aggression. Of course, knowing their personalities, I knew they would be fine and going on with normal life. Thank God I was right. They too were okay, and they also took the opportunity to invite me over for a barbeque.


What fascinated me the most was how easily everyone got on with their lives. And once I took the time to think about it, I realized that it is all they can do. We cannot stop living our lives, because that would allow the terrorists to win. This is our land, and we historically and legally have a right to live here in peace. To stop living our lives would be a success given to the terrorists. I’ve come to see that not only should we fight with our army, but we too must fight through our actions and reactions. Whether civilians, travelers or Jews, everyone has the responsibility to stand up to hatred. Our mindset is our greatest defense.



Grasping The Terror

When I think about the situation at hand, it sounds made up. It sounds like something from out of a movie, where the good guys eventually come and save the world, defeating their enemies. But this is the reality here in Israel. Someone’s father, husband, brother really did die from a rocket shot by Hamas controlled Gaza. People are living with PTSD. And there are real people out there who are not afraid to kill and take innocent lives. This is real, and we are in danger.


If we, as a society, start dismissing terrorism, nothing is stopping it from happening again. Once we start ignoring baseless hatred and violence, we deem it acceptable in society. By not providing backlash and consequences to these actions, it incentivizes it.



A Seminary in Terror

Later that evening – once back on my seminary’s campus (Givat Washington), which is about ten minutes from where I spent Shabbat – we got news that rockets were continuing to be fired at nearby areas. We could hear the sirens coming from Gedera and Ashdod, and felt the booms of the iron dome intercepting the rocket attacks. Our entire seminary ended up having to sleep in the bomb shelter. Like many of my other friends, I barely slept that night. I was in and out of a slumber, struck with anxiety about the situation and discomfort from having to sleep on a floor surrounded by others. As I slept, I could feel the window next to me shaking from the explosions nearby. At any moment, a siren could go off, and my heart rate didn’t lighten the entire night. The following day, we were evacuated from our campus.


I am currently writing this from an educational youth campus up north, near Tiberias. We are going day by day, waiting to hear when it is safe to return.


As the hours go by, more destruction is happening all over the country. As of this writing, four civilians have been killed, three are in critical condition, 131 are injured, and 600 rockets that have been sent in the past 36 hours.






Please click here to read other pieces pertaining to mental health



Taryn Simon
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