Reality dropped like a bomb yesterday after visiting Sderot, a small city in the Negev bordering Gaza. Pun intended.
We stopped and toured at a moshav, a cooperative of families that live together, work together, and pray together. Unlike a kibbutz, members of a moshav are more independent in that they receive their own paychecks and are responsible for a community tax. A moshav exists mainly as an agriculture cooperative where the community farms foodstuff for themselves and for profit.
This particular moshav was hit hard this summer during Operation Protective Edge. As we listened to the honest account telling her experiences with alarms ringing every 10 minutes, my heart sank deeper and deeper into my stomach. She discussed how her family, especially her eldest son, was affected by the constant sirens this past summer. She recounted, “The way my 17-year-old son covered himself with a blanket like a child, it’s not a good thing.”
Not being able to take a shower, make a meal or even peacefully go to sleep made living extremely difficult. But the alarms were just the beginning. After learning members of Hamas had built a tunnel letting out right near their community, members of the moshav made the decision to uproot themselves for a few months, scattering around the country and living with family and friends until the operation ended.
The quiet, peaceful farm community we were standing in was just months earlier faced with a decision to stay or flee from terrorists. What I’ve seen on the news became unbelievable reality that day. The mementos only added to this grounding experience.
Too keep spirits high, one artist decided to make the division of Gaza and the bordering town into something of beauty. A wall filled with wishes for peace made out of ceramics stood as a silent reminder of the hope that some people hold for a hate-free future.
We left the wall and after a short, somber drive, we landed on a patch of field filled with Calaniyot, a red flower that grows in Israel for only a few winter months in southern areas near Gaza. We had missed their peak, a short time when red carpets rolling Israeli hills, but the view was still a thing of beauty.
To me, the Calaniyot are a chilling metaphor for life here in Israel. What beauty and luster a country can hold, but only for a short while. Rockets will start again. The families in Sderot will have to leave their homes in response to attacks. And what allure this country is surely filled with will again be ruined by the news of death and destruction. For what? For what.