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We Are All Sderot

May 8, 2009 | by Rabbi Aryeh Leib Nivin

A missile exploded just 100 meters from my home and suddenly I care about the people of Sderot.

My wife and I moved to Ashdod in southern Israel four years ago. We rented a small dingy apartment for three years, and last January, thank God we found the apartment of our dreams for our ever–growing family.

While living in Ashdod, missiles were falling in Sderot but I was busy. My family was getting larger and my life-coaching practice was expanding faster than I could keep up. All day I was involved in teaching and helping people.

I read the newspapers about Sderot, told myself that the government should really do something about this and how terrible this is, and felt bad for a brief second. But you know how it is. I was busy, and Sderot was somebody else's job.

That all changed this past Shabbos afternoon.

I was taking a nap and heard the sirens. That's a loud siren, I thought. Maybe a car accident. But the siren kept going.

Then we heard the boom in the distance. "Did you hear that?" I asked my wife. "Yes."

The siren wasn't an ambulance; it was a warning to take cover for an incoming rocket. We instantly entered a new world -- the world of missiles falling on your city and your neighborhood.

On Sunday, I was teaching on an international phone conference call and cracked a joke that if the phone goes dead, please call the police. Twenty minutes later the phone went dead. My students ran to CNN to see what happened. Just one of those things -- the phone went dead for no apparent reason. Ten minutes later the call resumed, and the joke was no longer funny.

Monday night I taught my first class in the middle of a missile alert. After all, life must go on. I heard a boom in the distance and I prayed that everyone is okay. After the class I found out the missile struck a woman hiding in a bus shelter a few blocks away from home and killed her.

This is getting close. But life must go on. Some people start leaving town.

On Tuesday school was cancelled and all the kids were home. I went to my office to work and at 6:30 pm I heard a siren and then a very loud boom. I looked out of my office window and saw a pillar of smoke rising up right next to the area of my home. For a moment I almost fainted.

We need to care about all of our brethren in all places of suffering and sorrow.

The missile exploded just 100 meters from my home. It fell into an enclosure and thank God no one was hurt. If the missile had exploded just a little bit to the left or the right there would have been serious causalities. I can't even think about it.

Now I care about the Jews of Sderot. Now I understand. Where have I been for the past few years regarding my brothers and sisters who've been living under the constant threat of missile attacks? Now that it is my family and children, I suddenly wake up. It should not have taken me so long.

My family is strong in spirit. We are united and we are resolute. This is our country and we have always known that being here is not always a picnic. My wife and I both come from families that were decimated by the Holocaust. We are grateful just to have a home and to have the honor of raising a family in the land of Israel.

Many people we know are leaving town temporarily until things calm down. We are directly in the missiles range, but we are staying put. In fact, out of 20 families in our building, we are the only ones remaining. It is not our way to leave at times like this. To me, leaving our home would be a victory for Hamas.

But life is different. I don't look at my children the same any more. Any second a missile might fall on me and wife and my children and my neighborhood.

Don't learn the lesson of caring and empathy the way I did. We need to care about all of our brethren in all places of suffering and sorrow, whether it's Sderot, Be'er Sheva, Kiryat Shemona, Yemen, Mumbai, Argentina or New York. This helps unite us as a people.


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