Posted by JewishJournal.com
[ISRAEL August 2]: The last place you might want to be in Israel during these troubled times is hanging upside down from a roller coaster in 100 degree heat. But that’s exactly what 250 kids from Northern cities were doing on Tuesday, escaping from bomb shelters and Katyushas and living it up at Superland, an amusement park in Rishon L’Tziyon in the Central Region.
StandwithUs.Org, the media advocacy organization (that is sponsoring my trip) sponsored the children’s one-day trip, at a cost of $5,000-$6,000. They coordinated with the University Student Union, who brought in 20 students to bring in the buses and take care of the children.
“We don’t get out of the house at all,” said Diane Sansara, a ten-year old Bedouin fourth grader from a Bedouin village near Rosh Pina. Summers are usually spent on the Kineret lake or at amusement parks and hikes in the North, but now they are stuck in the village.
“We are Arabs, we don’t have shelters in the village,” said her teacher, in charge of about 30 elementary school children.
The University Students and the StandWithUs members handed out hot pizza, Coke, and chocolate and vanilla ice cream cups. A few miles away, booms shattered the air from a military base practice. A look of worry and fear crossed the students faces, but as they prepared to go into Superland, laughter and excitement replaced it.
—Amy Klein, Religion Editor
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August 2, 2006 | 12:57 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
[ISRAEL August 2]: Before I go on to tell you about today, I must preface it with the fact that I wanted to write this note two hours ago, but my hands were shaking too much to type on the Blackberry with such close keys…
Matthew Altman is a literary agent at Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills. He left on vacation to fly to Israel and help Israelis dealing with the war. His blog entries will appear here regularly.
As I told you last night, we had a major ground attack and expected to get fired upon today. But for some reason, by ten o’clock, we hadn’t heard a thing. I really thought the war was over, as it seemed like a beautiful quiet morning.
I volunteered at Bnai Zion Medical center thinking I was going to do something helpful with the patients…but they were short staffed in the kitchen, so I went to help prepare food. The hospital usually serves patients in the dining room, but since that room is mostly glass and faces Lebanon it is considered a direct target. When I arrived in the kitchen, I was introduced to the kitchen staff, who could not have been more welcoming. Everyone here is so kind to strangers especially ones that come when everyone else flees.
After meeting the crew of 15 chefs, the crazy Russian chef took a special liking to me. If you’ve seen the movie Armageddon, he was exactly like that crazy Russian cosmonaut, except he didn’t speak a lick of English. He was the clown of the group and he spoke to me the whole time, knowing I didn’t know what the hell he was saying… This would be the moment where my life changed…
I should have listened to my parents when they told me to study at Hebrew school; it would have been very handy in this situation.
Being in the kitchen, all I could hear was the clinging of pots and pans. So when the crazy Russian looked at me and motioned for me to run behind him… I did. I figured he wanted to race or to get food from upstairs? I ran after him up three flights of stairs as quick as I could. The next thing I knew, we were on the roof, overlooking the entire coastline. Sirens were going off and while everyone in the building was running to the opposite side, we ran up a stairwell.
I had no idea what we were doing. We were alone on the roof. He looked at me and said one word that is the same in English and Russian: “katusha.” What I saw next will change my life forever!!!
FOURTEEN rockets were flying in the air. To say it was scary was an understatement. He had wanted to show them to me and that’s why we were running. I was paralyzed. My heart was in my throat and I nearly shit myself.
It was unreal; I watched rockets come at me, not being able to even move. I have such a newfound respect for any soldier in any army now.
What they do and what I saw, no one should experience ever. I stared to shake as they all landed and was unable to stop shaking for the next two hours. Try serving soup while shaking; most of it lands on the ground.
It’s two hours later now and I’m still in shock! We are dealing with monsters with Hezbollah. If they are not fully wiped out, they will grow and their other partners (Syria, Iran) will make America their next target. Everyone that loves life, even Mel Gibson, should pray that Israel is successful in this war! If not, we will experience something no one can possibly imagine.
America could not and would not function under this type of stress. We freak out in LA when there’s traffic or we can’t get a reservation somewhere… I can’t imagine how the American public would react to missiles coming at us. I never want to see that again.
It was frankly the scariest moment of my life. I’m not sure how many people were hurt or what damage was done by the rockets. You can tell by the sounds if one hits the water or land and, from the sound of the boom at least 5 definitely hit land.
I don’t know what to say right now as I can’t really talk or think about anything else at all. All I see and hear are those fourteen missiles in the air, fifteen second that seemed like forever.
These Islamic militant monsters must be stopped!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There were another two bomb raids later in the afternoon but I spent the rest of the day in a safe room as I had enough for one day. Today over 200 missiles were fired into Israel.
—Matthew Altman, Contributing Writer
[ISRAEL August 1]: I began my day today working at the Koenig-Soldiers center, which is where the Navy puts together boxes for every soldier. There are many companies in Israel that regularly donate boxes of food, clothing and bathing supplies. Besides companies, families also send boxes to show their support.
On this particular day I happened to be helping when we received a virtual mountain of men’s dress socks with little cartoon characters on them. I joked with the soldiers that if we ran out of bullets, we could always scare them away with the horrible looking socks. One soldier and I went out to take a break and he told me about his uncle who was driving home from work last week and was killed by a direct hit on his car.
It is so maddening to me as well as him, that nothing was said on TV. He told me he would email me pictures in the hopes that I could have them sent out. After spending the morning helping there, I was so fortunate to get the opportunity to go where no one is allowed to go….
Once again I have to thank my host, one of the smartest and kindest men I have ever met, Dani Neuman. After meeting and talking with soldiers who have not seen their families in weeks, I went down to the hospital to see wounded soldiers and families. As we were arriving we heard that Dani’s son’s best friend, who is on the front line was shot and being evacuated to the hospital. We are told he will survive and we will be seeing him later…I can’t get the image of a nineteen year old boy forced to go to war for freedom when I and everyone I know, take freedom for granted.
I also wanted to make a special note: Temple Sinai in Los Angeles took a special trip for three days to see the damage and show support, and they raised a huge amount of money for the city. It’s wonderful; people like them should be recognized with the hope that others too will donate and come too. This town has lost its entire economy for three weeks now. Just think how mad you get when your computer shuts down for five minutes and doesn’t work…
Although we WILL win the war, terror has affected this place in so many more ways than rockets…
Lastly as the past two days have been rather quiet, we expect to get slammed with over 150 rockets tomorrow as the cease fire is over. I am not sure if I am going to work near the water tomorrow yet, as that’s where most of the rockets hit. More rockets were launched into Israel last Saturday than any other day in the country’s history (I think over 170 and frankly they expect more).
I will be doing what ever I can tomorrow, to help whether going to hit sites and helping victims or staying in bomb shelters with children keeping them calm. I have no idea at the moment but will update you tomorrow.
I am on the way to a city council meeting tonight as the mayor will discuss what to expect tomorrow. I know many ask me how they can help…you can log onto www.haifaemergencycampaign.com as this goes DIRECTLY to Haifa and the bombings. Again feel free to forward to anyone and let me know if someone wants to be added to the email list directly.
—Matthew Altman, Contributing Writer
August 1, 2006 | 12:20 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Amy Klein is the Journal’s Religion Editor. She is on assignment for the Journal in northern Israel covering the war.
[ISRAEL, August 1]—Your underwear is showing,” a voice behind me says in Hebrew.
I’m crouching on the floor of the metal snake-like tube that connects the airport to the El Al plane. I’m about to board for Israel. In the rush to make the NY-Los Angeles connection, I’ve dropped my carry-on, and in typical Israeli fashion, people are walking around me, jostling me, while I gather my stuff.
“No, I mean, your underwear is really showing,” the woman behind me says, using the Hebrew word mamash, to emphasize the severity of the situation.
I want to say, “What, like no one’s ever shown an underwear line before in Israel, home of the displayed bra strap?” but I donât because it’s too early in the leg of my journey to start picking fights, i.e. to start acting Israeli.
What I mean to say is that despite there being a war on, at this early stage in my journey I can see that there are a lot of things that haven’t changed about Israel, and Israelis. Travelers are still carting boxes of Marlboros from Duty-Free. The airline has lost my luggage. People are still aggressive.
“Oh, they are going to be so sorry, they’ll wish they had my luggage,” says the doctor who traveled with me from Los Angeles who also lost his luggage. He was a man in his late forties who was in LA for a three-day medical conference, and he looked rather mild mannered, not like someone to be afraid of. “You’d better not leave without getting money from them, either,” he admonished me, as if I’d done something wrong. But I didn’t have it in me, not the way that he did.
“I don’t care what time you think my luggage might be at security, I want to know when it will be at my house,” he admonished the manager, after berating the lady at the desk. “Oy vavoy lachem,” he said, meaning something like, “woe onto you..” When she turned away, he winked at me, and made the international finger-rubbing sign for money. This was a new thing for me: I didn’t know Israelis used their complaining as a strategy, a tactic. I’d thought it was how they felt.
Who knows if it worked? My new friend walked away hoping to accrue EL Al Frequent Flier mileage and I got a toiletry kit from El Al. It wasn’t bad.
No, some things haven’t changed about Israel. But others seem to. For instance, the flight is not empty, but it’s far from full. The Hasidim can’t even manage a minyan, so they daven alone, singles blocking the bathroom. The flight attendants are overly helpful, since there’s about one for every two passengers. The customs desks are pretty empty, especially the ones for foreign passports—and there it seems to be a couple of religious people—less likely visitors than people who live in Israel but haven’t changed passports.
It’s too early to tell the effect the war is having on the country. First off, I’ve only just arrived, and secondly, so has the war. Right now everyone is waiting to see the effects. Waiting to travel here, waiting to see if this is a long-term crisis or a short-but-deadly conflict. It’s too early for Israelis to feel abandoned by their Diaspora brethren who don’t come, too early to know what the economic toll will be.
And still some things are the same: Upon landing, the passengers still break out in song, “Heveinu Shalom Aleichem.” The Bnei Akiva girls run up and down the aisles. The air in Tel Aviv is oppressively sticky and hot, but it smells different from Los Angeles.
—Amy Klein, Religion Editor