Sistahs, Sirens, And Shrapnel

Today, many of my girlfriends were needy. The Facebook PM’s just kept flowing in. I would absorb their words and think how best to support my “sistahs.”

One such message however, really got to me. It was from a friend in Southern Israel. Between the sad ending to the weeks of prayers and hopes, the details coming out about the murders, and the constant barrage of missiles, she was losing it in a way those other girlfriends were not.


I had noted my friend’s inability to stop reading and sharing the news during these past few weeks, her failure to leave her computer even late at night and bone tired, in her eagerness to hear some happy news about the boys. I saw her anxiety all this time, her information obsession. I really wanted to help her now.

What she wanted was a quiet afternoon and night. She wanted to cook dinner, eat with her husband, and catch up on her sleep. She wanted to spend tomorrow cooking for Shabbos.

I (virtually) listened. I sympathized. I wanted to give my friend hope to stay strong. I suggested she had choices. I suggested she could choose to pray, or choose to get away for a few days. I told her that when she felt weak she should take a few deep breaths and say, “I have the strength of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, V’Leah. I am a Jewish mother. I will be strong. I will be resilient. I will not let evil win!”

I told her to say it while looking in the mirror or to just say it to herself whenever she felt her resolve to be strong, weakening.

Finally I wrote, “Bless you. You should only have a respite, somehow, some way, my friend.”

I knew that I wasn’t really saying anything that had any real meaning. I was making it up, faking it as I went along. But I so wanted to lessen her pain and I didn’t know how. So I pretended I was wise and dispensed imaginary wisdom.

My friend played along and thanked me, pretending my words had actually helped.

I went back to my work and then. BOOM. BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. Sirens in the South.sderot-qassam-launch

Except I didn’t hear the booms. I don’t live in the South. It’s quiet here in the Gush.

I only imagined the booms vicariously through the vehicle of Facebook notifications. Or maybe it was sympathy pains. For my girlfriend. Who only wanted to cook dinner and go to sleep.

I messaged her a bit later, “So much for cooking dinner and catching up on sleep.”

She had the grace to (virtually) laugh.


Ten rockets altogether.

I didn’t text my friend. I thought she might be running to the shelter. I didn’t want to get in her way with a message while she was seeking shelter.

But later she reached out to me. Her two grandchildren were playing in the yard when Iron Dome took out a missile right over RIGHT OVER (!) her daughter’s home.

My American friends think I should be exceedingly grateful to POTUS for all the Iron Dome assistance.

Let me tell you about Iron Dome: it does not ZAP and VAPORIZE missiles. It explodes them in midair.

iron dome intercepting

If one has even a nodding acquaintance with gravity, then one knows that when things explode in midair, stuff falls.

It’s called SHRAPNEL.

Now imagine it’s summer vacation, you’re a little kid playing outside in the yard, you hear a siren, and then a missile explodes over your home and all these jagged pieces of hot metal fall out of the sky.

That is home sweet home for kids in Southern Israel.

At least my friends’ grandchildren weren’t hurt by the shrapnel and they weren’t too freaked out. Not this time.

But another girlfriend’s son WAS hurt by shrapnel from Iron Dome. Last year, in fact. He was driving on the highway when the sirens went off. He did what he was supposed to do, parked his car, got out, and crouched down low on the ground. Right then, Iron Dome took a missile out right over him and he was injured. Had to go to the ER.

Shrapnel.obama netanyahu

Yesterday, President Obama  urged “all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.”

Essentially he is saying that Israel should not respond as Hamas pounds the South with missiles.

I am sickened. I hurt for my friends in the South who only want to cook dinner, eat a quiet dinner, and go to sleep without being woken several times by sirens and booms.

But of course, I only hurt from a distance.

And there’s absolutely nothing tangible I can do to help her or to change her situation.


Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 36 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between raising her 12 children and writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids a Guidestar gold medal charity.