| War Diaries |

Sounds of Salvation

We’re in the park, finally, finally. I don’t remember the last time we were here in this park. BW, that’s for sure


hat’s that noise?”

My three-year-old tips his head back to the blue, blue sky.

Overhead, the rumble of fighter jets, one, and another, and another.

We don’t see them; we rarely do. I’m not sure if that’s because the sound reaches us only after they’ve passed, or if they’re flying too high, or they’re camouflaged somehow. Do they mirror the sky?

“It sounds like an airplane. Or a helicopter!” I say. Enthusiastically. He’s three years old; why should the sound of warplanes haunt him for a lifetime?

“A helicloptor!” Shloimy parrots, beaming. Then he runs back to the slide.

We’re in the park, finally, finally. I don’t remember the last time we were here in this park. BW, that’s for sure.

Before War.

Back Then, a trip to the park meant sunscreen and snacks, water and wipes. It meant marshaling my flagging energy to get out, out, out because once we were outside, it would be worth it. Sun, grass, slides, balls; what more do little boys need?

Now, preparing for the park means strategizing location. We need a park that’s located within 90 seconds’ run of a building. We need a park that’s not exposed to the open highway (will I ever stop being scared of an infiltration?), and preferably one with two exits. I’d love one with other people around, but not too many; is that too much to ask?

And when we get there, I can’t sink onto a bench and let my kids run. Because I’m looking everywhere, who’s that, what’s he holding? That sound; is it a car or something else? Where would we run if—

And then there are the sounds of war.

The jets, the booms of the Iron Dome, the sirens.


Last week, the siren went off during the school day.

“Nachi doesn’t like the sound of the sirens,” his morah said, when I picked him up. “We were taking them into the safe room, most of the babies were sleeping, so they weren’t afraid. But he recognized the noise, and started to cry.”

Guilt rose in my stomach. I know why he’s scared; it’s because of all those times the sirens went off, and I ran with him to the mamad. To my three-year-old, I spoke, explained, gave him words and smiles and reassurance, but the baby? I just grabbed him and ran. From his toys, from his highchair; what else was I supposed to do?

And I held him and soothed him and comforted him once we were inside that room, but pressed against my chest, he must have felt the rapid, rapid beating of my heart a whole lot more strongly than the words of reassurance I said out loud.

I feel so guilty and also helpless. Because the sirens go off and I can act calm, gather the kids, go into the safe room, close the door. I can distribute the prepared snacks and drinks and time the minutes carefully until it’s safe to leave.

But I can’t tell my body to stop feeling afraid. Can’t control the racing heartbeat, the racing thoughts. The breath coming shallow and fast. The tense terror as the sirens ends and we brace for the sounds to follow. A hit — or a miss? An interception, booms in the sky — or an explosion, ground shaking beneath our feet?

Is my husband, learning in a caravan-shul, with no safe shelter, okay? Did he make it to a building, a stairwell?

Is a stairwell safe enough?

And how safe is a safe room, anyway?

I know about co-regulation and the way a baby picks up on its mother’s feelings. I know all about it, and yet. And yet.

I’m his mother, I’m holding him, and I’m scared, so scared.

The first night after war broke out — Motzaei Simchas Torah, with the horrors just beginning to surface, and the terrifying, torturous news seeping in from the south — we went to sleep to the sound of the fighter jets for the first time.

They’re Israeli planes, it’s safe, I told myself.

There’s a war out there, and it’s terrifying, my body responded.

I needed something to hold on to.

And while it’s almost impossible not to feel reassured from the physical hishtadlus — an army out to fight, soldiers protecting cities — it wasn’t the reassurance I craved.

Those planes. They’re not ours. They’re His, the thought came to me. Because Who gives the army its supplies, its strategy, whatever strength it has — if not the One Who is truly defending His people?

Now, when a plane roars overhead, I think, over and over: This is the sound of Hashem fighting our war.

When I hear the far-off booms of the Iron Dome, I tell myself: This is the sound of Hashem shielding His children.

I hope and pray that we have no more sirens, not here, not anywhere in the Land.

But if we do hear again the ominous rise-and-fall warning us to run, here’s what I want to tell myself, to make my heart — and my children — understand: This is the sound of Hashem, calling us together, calling us into His embrace.

Calling us home.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 870)

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