When the Sirens Sound: Federation Leaders Visit Yoav

Federation leaders Iris Epstein, Vicki Glaser and Judy Diamondstein are currently in Israel, showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters during this difficult time. Their first stop was Yoav, our Partnership2Gether community. Below is a note from Iris after Day 1.

We are having a wonderful time in Yoav reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Everyone has been so welcoming and despite the hard times, really trying to live life as normal as possible. 

Overall, it has been a pretty quiet day. We did hear a few booms throughout the day and night but as long as the range is not within 20-30 minutes from here, the sirens do not ring. We did have to go to an underground shelter once tonight after a dessert reception with teens from last summer, families from both last and this summer, some steering committee members and the mayor.    

It was a bit surreal hearing the sirens the first time. It helped me remain calm seeing how calm everyone else was. It really is a way of life here. The major difference is the frequency. As some mentioned tonight, the main thing keeping panic at bay is the existence of shelters. Homes built after the early 1990s are required to have one at home. I have seen three: two at private homes (one used as an office and the other as storage) and another a shared shelter for a social space used at a kibbutz and surrounding homes without their own shelters. Tomorrow we will visit larger shelters that dub for space being used to care for young preschool children while camp has been canceled this week. One great need is mobilizing those who do not have shelters nearby or simply building more shelters.

A couple of the teens I spoke with seemed a bit shocked saying they have taken a few days to visit relatives in the north but all remain positive and try hard to live life as usual.  

Having been here 19 hours, I can see how being with loved ones can provide strength but also how little noises that go bumping in the night when you are alone in a room can startle you and keep you awake. The worst are the planes that fly overhead and the distant booms you hear. 

I remain strong and happy that we are here right now. It really does mean a great deal to our friends and partners here in Yoav that we are here: many driving over half an hour (while others interrupting summer camp programs an hour away) to see us to show their appreciation.  I worry about our friends here and keep praying for a peaceful solution. 


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