Via Jameel at the Muqata, a slice of life from the Middle East sent to him by Eli Birnbaum in Tekoa.
Erev Shabbat in Tekoa (like most places) is a contradiction of tension and relief. This time the arrival of Shabbat was accompanied by warning sirens for a missile attack. Surprise and unbelief ‘Missiles here in the Judean desert?’ Before we can really grasp what was happening, there came the resounding boom of an explosion echoing in the hills reflecting the shock in our faces. The security van careens through the streets calling people to find shelter. Within minutes another siren warning. This time prayers are halted . ‘Quickly under the shul,’ someone commands. Within the confusion we grab our children and grandchildren in our arms and climb down to the open area under the synagogue which affords more protection. We all move quickly in the darkening evening finding space on the floor . I hold one of my grandchildren talking to him softly . He thinks it is a great game. We begin to sing and wait for the next boom.
It was at that moment that my son Pinny’s cell phone rings. As a member of a search and rescue team it is not uncommon for him to get calls even on Shabbat. But this call was different ‘Shabbat Shalom’ . It is a familiar voice with a very distinct accent. ’ Pinny, its Muhammad, what do I do? What’s happening? I heard your sirens’. There is real panic in his voice.
At first this may not appear to be an abnormal situation, but Muhammad is an acquaintance/friend who happens to live in the Arab village of Tuqua which the army will only enter in large numbers. Pinny quietly explains that we were being rocketed from Gaza and the best thing he could do is to remain in doors and stay away from windows. Muhammad thanks Pinny profusely apologizes for calling on Shabbat ’ Shabbat Shalom Pinny – B’Emet todah!’. So this Friday night , a ‘Palestinian Arab’ called a ‘Jewish Settler’ for help regarding a rocket attack from Gaza – Surreal!