Today is February 23, 2018 -
“Who was the rabbi at the synagogue where you celebrated your bar-mitzvah?”
“Rabbi Bloom and Rabbi Silverman z’l,” I answered the El Al security officer before heading to the regular security screening. Agents wanted to hear about my Hebrew school experience and who gets invited to my annual seder. New this year, they took a final look through everyone’s carry-on bags immediately before boarding the plane.
“You’re going to Israel. Isn’t it dangerous?” Yes, there are dangers in Israel. But I feel safer traveling to Israel than anywhere else in the world. Certainly safer than anywhere in Europe.
We traveled to Jerusalem. “You’re going to Jerusalem. Isn’t it dangerous?” asked our friends in Eshkol. Yes, there have been a series of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. We were advised to never walk alone, avoid certain areas, and to be constantly aware of our surroundings. Anyone who has traveled to a large city in the U.S. has received similar advice.
From Jerusalem, Phyllis and I traveled to Eshkol, which is comfortably nestled between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. “You’re going to Eshkol. Isn’t it dangerous?” Yes, during times of conflict, rockets and missiles fly in from Gaza. Residents have 15 seconds from the time the alarm rings to be in a shelter. Precautions are taken. The high school buildings are all reinforced, and bomb shelters are situated within a 15-second walk from each other. As we sat in the garden, drinking coffee and reading the paper, the sun was shining and the birds were chirping, and we felt safe.
My brother-in-law has an employee from the West Bank city of Jenin, which is about five miles from his moshav. This Palestinian lives in a trailer on the farm during the week, and on weekends, he returns to Jenin. On Friday morning, we drove him to the border. On the car ride home, my brother-in-law said, “You spent three days in Tel Aviv. Wasn’t it dangerous?”
Truth to tell, we did have a situation in Tel Aviv. After successfully crossing a major street, we missed the signage entering a bike path and were nearly run over. No one warned us about this. We don’t read about it in our papers and it’s not on our news. You’ll read it here first. Pay attention to bikers in Tel Aviv!
My takeaway is that people live their lives. We are comfortable with what we know and nervous about things we don’t know. I may live in a tough neighborhood, but with my deadbolt, alarm system, watch dog, and community watch group, I feel safe. I think that it’s the same in Israel.