Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Thoughts from Seat 7D

I was originally hesitant to post this up here for a few reasons, including the fact that I felt it was much more applicable when it was written last summer, during the war between Israel and Lebanon, when Israelis were being evacuated from their homes and risking daily missiles. But then i rethought things. Nothing has changed. So today families in Sederot are living under constant attack. We don't hear about them anymore because "there have been no casualties". Chasdei Hashem! The Mishpacha this past Shabbos had a very informative article on the situation in Sederot, "Forgotten on the Front" by Rachel Ginsberg. Nothing has changed. So no one has died, but psychiatric wards are overflowing. The number of cases of post traumatic stress disorder are rising at an abnormal level. Their homes and lives are still being destroyed.

And Chevron. Ir HaAvot! Jews kicking their own people out of their land. Again.

And so, I may not be as poetic or as talented of a writer as Gila Kanal, but maybe my essay will mean something to someone out there. Now even after the storms ("possible tornadoes") in New York, and flooded subways (kosher or not), maybe someone can relate.

Ezzie, you win :-P
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July 19, 2006 - Seat 7D


My flight was scheduled for a 8:45 p.m. departure. We only live about 10 minutes from the airport, so around 7:00 my mother and I hopped in the car and we were on our way. Not even 100 feet onto the highway we saw a horrible storm looming ahead. Suddenly sparks shot out from a bridge overhead. It was as if they were part of a belated Fourth of July celebration. I called the airlines to see if the flight was still on time, or if it was even departing tonight at all. The representative told me with a heavy southern drawl that it was delayed until 9:10, but there was a 'gate hold', meaning the inbound flight needed to arrive here first, so the departure time could be later. I asked if it was *at all possible* for the flight to leave any earlier, and after repeating the part about the 'gate hold' enough times to talk himself in a circle, he told me that it would not leave any earlier than 9:10. The drive was getting more terrifying by the moment so we got off the highway and turned around to head home.

On the way home we saw branches twisting in the wind. Fallen trees, branches, swimming pools, and garbage cans were in the middle of the road. As we pulled up to our corner the electricity on our side of the block went out. We started to park in front of the house, under a large tree, and just as my mother said 'maybe we shouldn't park here because the tree might fall...' a rather large branch promptly fell onto our car, leaving a rather large dent. B'H we were ok.

We ran inside the house, dodging the branches that were falling left and right.

We were greeted by our family holding candles and staring out the window at the developing storm. Sometime between leaving the car and getting to the window the electricity across the street had gone off as well.

Suddenly,a huge section of branches from the tree to our right fell onto our neighbor's SUV parked in her driveway, giving the car a shove so far forward we thought it would roll away. Oddly enough, the car alarm didn't turn on. Another huge branch fell off a different tree across the street.

We sat looking out the window captivated by the site and the destruction. All signs pointed to 'tornado' but we had yet to hear the tornado sirens screaming. The airline's phone line was busy, and one of the cell phone providers had gone down. As the tornado sirens started to whine, i finally got through to the airline. They told me the flight was ON TIME, not canceled and not even delayed!

Slowly the sirens died down and the rain started to let up. It was 8:00. As I headed back to the airport, this time with my father in the driver's seat, we were shocked by the destruction. Wet, green leaves and thick, brown branches covered most surfaces. Police cars raced past going in every direction. Lighting bolts were striking surfaces on all sides of the highway.

News reporters on the radio had nothing prepared, so they were taking calls from listeners. A tornado had been spotted south of the metro area. Tractor trailers and RVs had toppled over on the highways. The roof of an airport building flew off and landed on the highway, closing all lanes. Warehouses were on fire.


As we arrived at the terminal, we noticed an eerie silence that only accompanies desolation. There was no one around. We got out of the car (no cops were around to ticket the car) and walked into the powerless terminal. We were greeted by a handful of airport employees telling us the airport had been shut down and everyone had been evacuated to the ground level/basement of the airport.

As I separated from my father and started to head for the stairs I thought about the situation. People at home were being told to go down to their basements for shelter, kids were scared, adults were frantically trying to find news stations that worked, there was no electricity, and airports were shutting down...

If people found this scary, imagine how much more terrifying it is for the people in Israel, being told to leave their homes for bomb shelters, and to evacuate their cities instead of airports. Running for their lives as their entire cities are destroyed, not from trees and branches falling, but from rockets. Instead of missing swimming pools and garbage cans, sons and brothers kidnapped on army duty. Buildings and bodies being brutally blown apart not by wind and tornadoes, but by bombs and missiles. Children whimpering in bomb shelters. Family members desperately trying to reach each other, worrying for each others safety, and their lives.

Instead of reacting like so many of the travelers around me, with frustration and irritability about *our* situation, I thought about, and davened for, the situation of my brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel.

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Separate thought: ever notice how passengers hardly exchange anything more than 'is anyone sitting here?', yet when thrown into insanely late delays, airport evacuations, or other high pressure situations, they suddenly become very friendly and chatty, one group in the same situation.

K'ish echod b'leiv echod.

So too with Klal Yisrael. The ahavas yisrael isn't always evident, and usually takes something like the situation in israel for us to all join together as one.

K'ish echod b'leiv echod.

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Another thought from seat 7D:

Maybe a good explanation for the situation here (i don't mean Eretz Yisrael) is that ppl get too comfortable in golus, and in america. They see what's going on in israel and think, 'baruch Hashem I live in america' and maybe say some tehillim.

But now as they are also evacuated from their homes they realize that it doesn't matter where you are...

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