- (Colleague Brian Blum and I have something in common far beyond mere blogging: we both have 13-year-old daughters who are best friends - Merav (L) and Shayna (R) who are in summer camp together. I am Shayna's father mentioned further down in this post, who was on the way to the north to cover the war, when I got the update mentioned below about a Katyusha strike near her camp in the Jordan Valley.
- I opt for honesty here and will tell you that the "irate reader," Brian notes further down is actually an American Jewish relative of mine who has often blithly remarked that I have thrown away my life and the assured riches of America by coming to live in Israel, and needlessly endanger my children - with his crass note to Brian serving as a stand-in for telling me directly. I am pointing this out to show you, the international reader, the complexity, nuances and depth of experiences making and loving a life here - "Normal," or otherwise, engenders in families and the Jewish world. As the sages tell us (I think it was Moe Howard)"Two Jews = Three Opinions = Four Synagogues."
- The girls, along with the rest of the campers are, well, "happy campers," although Shayna complained to me in a phone call Saturday night that she didn't like hearing four rocket alert sirens and bomb shelters messing with her idyllic summer camp experience. Bet color wars in your summer camp were never like this...- DB.)
Last week I wrote that my 12-year-old daughter, Merav, was scheduled to depart for two weeks of camp at Kibbutz Shluchot, just south of the town of Bet Shean in the northern Jordan Valley. In my post, I questioned whether it was irresponsible to send Merav that much closer to the front, despite the fact that nothing had happened at Bet Shean nor was anything expected to at the time. In the end, we decided to continue with our "normal life" and Merav climbed happily onto the camp bus that Friday morning.
Imagine, then, my concern last week, less than a week after camp had started, when I received a frantic call on my cell phone from the father of Merav's friend Shayna who was at the camp with her. "Did you hear?" the father asked breathlessly. "Sirens just went off in Bet Shean."
A minute later, the phone rang again. It was another parent who had just spoken with his daughter. "She said she heard a big boom," he said and asked if I had any more information. I didn't - there was nothing on any of the Internet sites I've been monitoring constantly since the conflict began.
After several tense minutes where I incessantly pushed the "refresh" button on my browser, a headline finally appeared: a long-range missile had penetrated into Israel the farthest of any to date, landing in Bet Shean proper, while another hit an open field somewhere between Bet Shean and the West Bank city of Jenin.
Bet Shean is 10 minutes north of Kibbutz Shluchot - a veritable gulf in this war of missiles. Still, that didn't particularly put my mind at ease, considering that at the very moment the missile was striking ground, my daughter Merav was not at the kibbutz at all. She had been come down with a nasty stomachache that morning, and the camp nurse sent her to the closest HMO doctor…yes, where else, but in Bet Shean.
Now, I know the chance of the one missile Hezbollah has fired at Bet Shean actually hitting the exact spot where Merav was traveling at that moment was very low. But today's strike in Kfar Giladi that killed a crowd of 10 people who were standing in a wide-open field shows that sometimes one's worst fears really do come true.
Until we located Merav, I was shaking.
After a very long 20 minutes, my wife, Jody, got a hold of Kenny, one of the camp directors, on his cell phone and he told us that Merav had just returned and was heading to the infirmary to take the pills the doctor had prescribed. We learned further that the camp had taken to the kibbutz bomb shelter for a drill that morning (Merav later told us she had done the real thing at the doctor's office, spending 15 minutes in the shelter there).
They were taking all precautions, Kenny reassured us, and were in touch with the home front command for any further instructions. We were not to worry.
The missile that landed near Merav is, fortunately, one of only a few long-range rockets Hezbollah has left. The IDF has been particularly effective at knocking out these weapons. It's the thousands of short-range missiles that pose a more constant threat to Israel's north. It was one of those that caused the deaths today at Kfar Giladi.