A view from Israel: Motzi Shabbat

by | Apr 18, 2024 | Israel, Opinion, Trending News

It was Saturday night.

One of my lecturers and I were on a Zoom call with a bubbly and cheerful English lecturer from Mexico planning a collaboration between our students. My phone rang and I saw it was my administrative coordinator, calling at 9 pm – which only means something serious happened. I calmly explained to our Mexican colleague that I needed to return the phone call. As I called my coordinator back, I also noticed that all my WhatsApp groups connected to the school system had blown up. My coordinator called to tell me that she would stay at home tomorrow instead of going to our only operational campus in the Golan Heights (our other two campuses are closed because they are in the evacuated area of the North), but our exam would still happen online as planned.

A quick scan of my WhatsApp groups revealed that the Homeland Defense had canceled all educational activities because of the Iranian threat. I went back to my Zoom call and continued planning the collaboration, with only a quick explanation to our smiling Mexican counterpart of what was happening. At the same time, my stomach went into knots, and I swore inside my mind because my kids would be home yet again because of this war and now I needed to explain, again, why another country was attacking us. I saw that my Israeli colleague also went pale on Zoom as the same thoughts raced through her head.

For some reason, even when my husband informed me that 100 missiles were already on the way over (and would take several hours to arrive), my reaction wasn’t worry but anger and sadness for what my children and all other children in Israel would face in the morning. That is disruption to their lives and plans yet again. I went to sleep – I didn’t see any reason to wait up and I knew I would need energy to be with my children the next day. My husband, and probably most other adults, stayed up glued to the news and communicating with each other.

The next morning my husband and I called our kids into a bedroom and explained that they wouldn’t be going to their day camps because the IDF wanted to keep us safe from some missiles. My eight-year-old twins asked if Hamas sent the missiles. We explained that it was Iran, the country funding and encouraging Hamas and Hezbollah. All of them asked right away if there were going to be sirens. We said there might be.

The rest of the day, they got to be kids. We made pancakes. They built a chair out of cardboard. We went to the playground. One daughter invited a friend over, the other one went to a friend’s. My son watched a movie. All of them visited with their grandfather (Saba).

For my husband and I, we were balancing creating a fun day for the kids with work calls, emails, and reading the news. Since October 7th, I’ve been walking through the world with sadness in my heart and the desire to yell – “I want to go home” (to Kibbutz Yiftah in northern Israel). The events of the last 24 hours have only amplified these feelings.

Having my kids and my work are the main reason I’m able to prevent myself (mostly) from falling into a void of complete despair and sadness. I know I need to model for them how to move through these times and focus on the meaningful, beautiful parts of life – the generous and supportive communities surrounding us, our friends, and our family. I told my children this message last night (before the news about Iran’s attack broke), and it is a message I have been continually repeating to myself.

Liz Dovrat is the daughter of Barbara Dudley, Jewish Community Relations Council chair. She occasionally writes for Jewish News on life in Israel with her family.