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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 16, 2008 / 11 Nissan 5768

A Prayer for Sderot's Children

By Jonathan Tobin

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Kids in a town within range of Palestinian rockets live in the shadow of fear and death

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Last week, the children of Sderot prepared for Passover. At a model seder in a third-grade classroom in modern Orthodox religious elementary school affiliated with the AMIT organization, the kids recited the order of the Haggadah to the approval of their teacher.

With napkin smocks covering their school sweatshirts, the youngsters made Kiddish over little bottles of grape juice and paraded around the room.

Later, fifth-grade girls escorted visitors to their small city around the natural history "museum" that the students had created in the courtyard hallway of their school and showed off the books that kids were reading from their library.

But there is one feature of the school that is unique: a room in the basement labeled "cheder shaalva" — room of comfort.

How Do You Measure Fear?
It is a room with soft pillows and chairs whose purpose is to give the children who need a place to calm down and deal with the daily dilemma of rocket attacks that rain down on their town.

On its walls are the childrens' prayers. But the notes pinned to the board are not requests for toys or treats. What they want is much more simple. They want a day and a night without kassams, without the gut-wrenching fear that envelops the life of children who have not known anything but a world dominated by the words "Tzeva Adom" — the "code red" alert emanating from loudspeakers. It warns them that they have but 15-20 seconds to find shelter before a Palestinian missile may land to crush the walls of their homes or schools while sending shrapnel into the air to tear their flesh and snuff the life from their small bodies.

Inside the quiet room is a cardboard model of a kassam with a scale, numbering one to 10 on it, signifying the level of fear students sense on any given day. A zero is represented with a child's smile, the 10 with a frown.

When asked by principal Dinah Houri how she feels, 10-year-old Yael answers with a lukewarm "five."

For Houri, the normal challenges of educating the youth of a town of low-income families are complicated by the fact that everything in a town within kassam-range is set in that context of fear.

"These children are afraid every day — every hour of the day," Houri explains. Wherever they go and whatever they do, they must think about what they will do if an alarm sounds. The question is always "Where will I hide?" she says.

For Yael, who says that she lives on the third floor of her apartment building, that means a mad rush to the basement bomb shelter every time the alarm sounds, something that can happen several times on a bad night. Others have slept in beds in shelters for years.

Where do these kids play? Down the street from the school is a playground with a metal awning to resist the impact of a kassam. But what kind of free play can go on in such an atmosphere? Indeed, Houri says that, for the most part, these are children who have grown up playing inside rather than in the fresh air because of the kassams.

It is a life, she readily concedes, as "surreal" as something in a movie, but, somehow, they have gotten used to it. About that, they have no choice.

Last Tuesday, after a morning of classes, the students of Houri's school marched down the street to a community center to hear a concert being given for them. During the performance, the lights in the auditorium began to flash. It meant nothing to me, but the children understood what I didn't. Once again, the town was under attack.

Since the music was playing too loudly for us to hear the "Tzeva Adom" outside, the lights indicated the need to seek shelter.

The kids' reaction was immediate. Some began to cry. Others ducked under their chairs. But, within moments, their teachers and other adults reassured them that they were safe. The music never stopped, and soon the danger had passed without further incident. Two other alerts would sound that day in the region, one in which terrorists would also assault the border and kill two Israelis.

Later, when asked if the roof of the center was reinforced, Houri conceded it was not. Had a kassam hit, the worst might have happened. But what would you have us do she demanded. Have the kids running across the street to a shelter in the middle of an attack?

These are the sorts of decisions parents and educators have been forced to make in Sderot. Thanks to the inability of the Palestinians to aim their rockets accurately, casualties have been relatively few. But, as Houri attests, every child knows someone who has been hit or had a kassam land near them.

At one religious high school, a security camera captured the moment of impact when a rocket landed in the school's yard moments before teenagers might have been there. That school's principal showed me the holes in the building's walls from the shrapnel that sought to kill his students.

Indeed, everyone in town seems to have his or her own story of close escapes and similar "miracles." But the reality is that there is no relief in sight from the ordeal.

Israel's government and its prime minister, widely reviled in Sderot, are trapped between the obligation to protect their citizens and the realization that neither conventional military retaliation nor diplomacy seems to have any impact on Hamas.

Israel's Verdun
This has led some to say, not without justice, that the rest of Israel has abandoned Sderot and its people. But, in spite of the failure to halt the attacks, the town is beginning to take on the aspect of a symbol of Israel's resilience as more visitors come to to express solidarity. Sderot is becoming, perhaps in spite of itself, Israel's Verdun. And like the World War I French fortress town that the Germans could not conquer, perhaps the Palestinians have started a process that they also cannot control here.

Rabbi Dovid Fendel, the head of a Hesder yeshiva in the town where students mix army service with Torah study, says young religious couples are moving there out of Zionist sentiment to show the Palestinians that they cannot succeed in making the place a "ghost town."

"For every kassam, we will build," the American-born Fendel pledges. "They should see we are not afraid."

But that bravado notwithstanding, the children of Sderot are still preparing for a Passover celebration which they know may be disrupted by the kassams.

This weekend, take a moment at your own seder. Look at the children around your table and imagine what you would feel like if they faced what the children of Sderot must live with every day.

As you do, say a prayer for the children of Sderot. Pray, as they do, for quiet. That no kassams will fall. That no "Tzeva Adom" will be heard in the town. Pray that there be peace for all of Israel and let those prayers be heard around the world. Amen.

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