Still no sensations, except the ride there. Taking the sherut [collective taxi] to Sderot reminds me of that scene in Dr Strangelove when he rides the missile: one rockets there in fear and lands, in this case quietly, in a town under fire.
Last Thursday, the day of the cease-fire, there were small groups of reporters with massive video cameras sprinkled about the town. This week, two busloads of 'terror tourists' were cruising in busses. One looked to be 'Birthright' [a program for Jewish youth visiting Israel] and the other was an odd collection of North American Jews. Their guide is explaining the exact science of a Qassam
. A short, complete spec: before launch, after landing, how long, how far, how wide, how destructive. I hope this is a history lesson!
There is a definite, almost joyful atmosphere of 'in spite of it all' around these people. (They must be Jewish!) A little further down, a large group of teenagers are grouping up for photos. Perhaps they feel heroic?
I am thinking how lightning is said to never strike the same place twice. This thought strikes me now and then in Sderot- always in the same inner place. Another, even more common thought there is 'one is safer here than on a highway'. And I still have yet to know the sound of a 'red' [warning siren] or a Qassam.
But I see again the stiff upper lip of the Sderotim. Their all-too-relaxed exchanges of small talk. The infrequent sorrowful graffiti.
I finally visited the pearl of a town library. Someone nice named Fanny, from Terra Haute, kindly gave the money, and two nice librarians make sure it is well spent. The place is quiet, calm, decorated, compact, clearly labeled, utterly clean. They've a nice reference room with a good range, including several rather unexpected magazines; even one in English about cooperative Palestine/Israel health projects and research. The reading room is fairly well stocked in Hebrew; slightly less so in Russian; much, much less in English; and one modest little stack in French. All nicely wrapped and numbered. The new library law makes the system free, as of March this year.
Back to Itzik's for a late lunch. There's a busboy who looks 9 at most, assiduous and polite, quick as a bee to empty the kol-boinik [table waste bin] and whisk sidewalk trash into the bin. Where did he pick up this behavior? Where did they find this jewel!? ĖThe kid claims he isn't kin to the owner. When I ask him how the job pays he grins shyly and tells me 'quite well'. Maybe all the extra-curricular programs are creating a new, well-mannered, diffident, hard-working Israeli child!
Summer is here and the best time is early evening. I recognize this wind in Sderot; it's the same one that we have every summer evening in Be'er Sheva - only it comes earlier here. Mihal Eliav 2008 ©
Michal Eliav is planning on making Sderot her home.
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