We are back home after almost 3 months in the U.S. Ray had two conferences beginning at the end of April 2014, in San Diego and Chicago, and the latter also gave us the opportunity to visit Lilly and Nir, where Lilly is studying for a Ph.D. in Communications at Northwestern University. These two visits are described in the attached files. Most of the time we were in New Haven, CT, where Ray had a mini-sabbatical, and both Ray and Edie spent much time in the Yale University Archives, studying the life and work of Arthur Williams Wright and his family. And Ray had yet a third conference in New Orleans. Blogs about our time in New Have and New Orleans will follow later.
Our return to Israel was not straight-forward. We flew on US Air out of Philadelphia on 11 July, but only got as far as approximately Boston, when the pilot announced that we were returning to Philadelphia because of a hydraulic failure, but first we needed to circle out to sea near Atlantic City for several hours to burn off fuel. We landed in Philadelphia with an array of fire trucks etc. stationed along the runway. The landing however was relatively smooth. While in principle USAir was organized to care for the weary passengers with packets of alternate tickets for the next day and hotel vouchers, the execution was faulty, to say the least. Our seats on the next night’s flight were 20 rows apart, and there was no hotel voucher. After waiting around the airport for an hour or so waiting for USAir to arrange a hotel room, and hearing of others who returned from the hotel to where they were sent because there wasn’t room for them, we gave up, and taxi’ed to Ray’s niece in New Jersey. She had quite a surprise when she woke up in the morning to find us camped out on her porch!
The flight the next day was crowded, but otherwise OK. Edie convinced her neighbor to switch seats with Ray, so we were together. We landed in the midst of the “Defensive Edge” operation in Gaza, and experience our first missile alarm in the taxi ride from the airport to home.
While the war is raging in Gaza, life in the center of Israel is “almost” normal. Maybe this normality is an expression of how quickly one accommodates to a new reality. In our area all businesses are operating almost normally, all services are operating, and even recreational activities are operating more or less as usual. The war is felt in three ways. We have approximately one missile alert per day. The most interesting was when we were on the tennis court at Tel Aviv University, and decided we didn’t have time to get to a shelter (we get about 1.5 minute warning), so we sheltered next to a wall on the court, and saw our “iron dome” system intercept the incoming missiles, more or less over our heads. The second effect is the large number of citizens that have been called up for active reserve duty (none of our family so far). And thirdly, the operation dominates our news and our conversation.
In contrast, life in the area in Southern Israel bordering Gaza is very difficult. They are being bombarded with rockets with only 15 seconds warning, and by mortars with no warning, several times a day, sometimes several times an hour.
And of course life in Gaza is pure hell. Make no mistake that only one party is responsible for the situation in Gaza, and that’s Hamas. There is much truth to the slogan that Israel has an army which protects its civilians, Hamas has an army which hides behind its civilians. It’s absolutely shocking to what extent Hamas has placed arms caches in mosques, schools, hospitals, and in tunnels and bunkers under civilian residences. Furthermore almost all of the rocket launches towards Israel are from residential areas.
Today was a particularly hard day. A close friend, Gila Gershon, passed away after a long illness. Gila was active in our synagogue, particularly in organizing youth activities, and was the mainstay of a choir directed by her husband, Eli – a choir in which Edie has sung for many years.
And an hour after what was supposed to be a 3 day cease fire, Hamas attacked an Israeli patrol, killing several soldiers and kidnapping a young officer who lives in nearby Kfar Saba. So the war is continuing in full force particularly in Rafiah at the southern end of the Gaza strip, as the IDF tries to isolate the area where the soldier was kidnapped, and search for him.
After Gila’s funeral, Ben and Inbal, came over for an early dinner with Abigail and Eliana. Playing with our gorgeous granddaughters tonight was a special pleasure.
And a bit of other good news….we’re looking forward to Yael ‘s wedding to Oren October 17 – the fourth wedding in our family in four years!