| War Diaries |


“I saw you from my window so I came down to help you,” she explains


hen an air raid siren goes off in Rechovot, I’m a front-row witness to the purest ahavas chinam.

The IDF has vastly depleted the stockpiles of Hamas rockets intended for our people, and after weeks of living on high alert, we’ve been able to pick up kids, do errands, and go jogging without automatically scanning for the closest shelter. So on that chilly gray January Monday, I’m caught flat-footed.

I’ve just finished my start-of-the-week errands and am heading home with all six of my kids in my Honda Odyssey. As we pass our babysitter’s house, the familiar wail of the air raid siren begins to rise and fall.

The next few minutes are among the most terrifying of my life.

It takes 90 seconds for missiles to reach us from Gaza. When we’re in our apartment and need to run to our in-home bomb shelter, that’s usually enough time. On the street, seat-belted in a car, with one adult and six kids ages one to twelve — it’s not.

My adrenaline kicks in, and despite my terror, I calmly tell my kids, “We’re fine, it’s all fine, yes, it’s an air raid siren, but we’re going to pull over and run to Morah Rivka’s  building, she has a maamad.”

With trembling hands, I pull into a parking space, bumping the curb in the process, and open all the car doors. My resilient Israeli children spring into action. My twelve-year-old son scoops up my one-year-old daughter from her car seat, while my ten-year-old unbuckles my three-year-old.

As I run around the car to close the doors, they begin running across the street with my eight-year-old son. My baby and toddler are calm — it’s nice to be too young to understand danger — but my five-year-old daughter is sobbing with terror. I leave at least one door open (and my wallet and phone behind) and run with my kids, grabbing my five-year-old’s hand and taking my three-year-old away from my daughter who is struggling to hold a child half her height.

That’s when I hear her. From behind me, someone is running, asking if I need help. I don’t have time to process. In my still-awkward Hebrew, I tell her we’re fine, I’m taking them to someone’s apartment.

“You know where to go?”


She runs with us.

We reach the building entrance as the first missile explodes in the sky overhead. I realize that I couldn’t knock on the babysitter’s door and make her leave her safe room, so I tell my kids to go up one flight and take shelter in the stairwell. We are safe — or as safe as we could be with missiles overhead. I count my kids, sink onto the landing, and pull a few of them onto my lap.

The young woman is still with us. She’s maybe in her early twenties, olive-skinned, with a long, curly ponytail. She’s panting from the run. I’m too discombobulated to take in more details than that. After I catch my breath, though, I try to understand what had happened.

“I saw you from my window so I came down to help you,” she explains.


She heard the sirens warning of incoming rockets. She was safely inside her home, but happened to glance out the window. And saw a woman with little kids stuck outside. So she ran out of her home, out of safety, to help save strangers.

I’m still too confused and disoriented, trying to catch my breath and comfort my kids, to fully process what she has said, who she is, what she’d done.

We hunker down on the speckled tiles of the stairwell and counted down the ten minutes until the danger of shrapnel passes. I murmur to my kids and try to clean the chocolate hamantaschen crumbs off my baby’s face — we’d just stopped at the bakery.

The young woman leaves the building before I’m comfortable heading out. She wishes me well, and I reach out and touch her shoulder, thank her again. And then she’s gone.

It’s only after I finally stop shaking, when we’re home again (my wallet and phone were safe in the open-door car) and everyone is inside, that I can fully process what had just happened. That’s when my ten-year-old says, “Ma, you know, she had no shoes, she was only wearing stockings.”

I hadn’t even noticed.

What kind of person does that as an automatic response? A young woman, maybe just home from work, races out of her safe room, doesn’t pause to grab shoes, pounds down a city pavement with broken glass and rocks, to help strangers reach safety.

Hashem, I see why You love us. “Even the simplest among you have merits as numerous as a pomegranate’s seeds (Eiruvin 19a).” What a gorgeous people You chose.

I keep an eye out for this young woman every time I pick up my baby from the babysitter. I want to properly thank her. I want to tell her that her ahavas chinam is what will bring this war to an end. It’s what will bring Mashiach.

I haven’t seen her yet. But every time I tell this story, her stockinged feet bring me to tears.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 884)

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