Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shalom from Israel

Danny Lieber '08 writes from Rehovot, a town 12 miles southeast of Tel Aviv.

Hey Everyone,

I am spending the summer in Israel working in a computational biology lab at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, a town about 12 miles southeast of Tel Aviv. I'm safe here, since it's a quiet town far away from all the action. Daily life goes on pretty much as usual, but I am constantly distracted by everything that's going on: checking the news and replying to lots of emails throughout the day to tell people that I'm doing fine.

Though my life has not been physically affected, the lives of my family living in Israel certainly have. Most of my family in Israel lives in the North. Two of my mother's brothers and their families (who are American and moved to Israel a few years ago) live in two of Israel's hardest hit cities, Haifa and Nahariya. Fortunately, the families travel to the US at the end of every summer to visit my grandparents, so the family from Nahariya had already left Israel by the time the first rockets came down on their town. My uncle, aunt, and three little cousins in Haifa spent two nights in their bomb shelter in Haifa, then moved down to the Tel Aviv area to stay with some relatives for a few days before leaving the country.

Though the relatives on my mom's side are American, the relatives on my dad's side are Israeli and thus are staying in Israel. They live in Afula, another northern town recently struck by rockets. The husband works in Haifa and the wife has a small shop in Afula. Though they both go to work every day-- the husband drives an hour to get to Haifa-- they say that there are practically no customers. Throughout the day, mostly in the morning and afternoon, there are sirens indicating rocket attacks. Their family may come down to Rehovot this weekend to visit me and to get out of Afula for the day.

I guess Israelis have lived with this on and off for years. It's amazing to me how they continue to live life as usual despite the constant worry. I find it rather difficult. The small pleasures that I've enjoyed for the first six weeks of my summer here have been dulled slightly in the past week. Every bite of falafel, every Israeli song is still so good, but the knowledge in the back of your mind that the situation can change in a split second definitely has an effect on you.


Related: On our main site, read Jason Turetsky '07's account of being in Haifa, Israel when it came under attack by Hezbollah rockets.