For the past week and a half, my phone has been emitting siren sounds thanks to an app called Red Alert [also called Color Red in Hebrew]. While it is meant to alert Israelis to the very real danger of incoming missiles, many in the diaspora, like me, have downloaded the app as a way to obsess stay informed.
And I have chosen to keep on the audio.
Now, I know that having my phone bleep isn’t the same when my life does not depend on my ability to locate and get to a miklat (shelter) with my kids within seconds. Or, if we were at home, get to our mamad (protected room). Hearing the sound doesn’t strike fear in our hearts or give us nightmares.
But what it has done is given us a reality check. It has given my children a sense of how disrupted daily life has been in Israel lately and, for those in the south, for the past 12 years.
With my iPad on the fritz, my 7-year-old son recently had my iPhone in his room while playing with his two chums. With Red Alert blaring every few moments.
I had forgotten to disable it.
Not because I didn’t want my children to hear the scary sounding bleats. But because I wasn’t certain how the neighbors would feel about their kids hearing them.
But before I could get up the stairs, I overheard Jacob explaining why his “mom’s phone keeps making weird sounds.”
There are these people who don’t want us to be in Israel anymore. So they keep shooting rockets at us so we will leave. Every time they shoot, there are sirens and you only have a few seconds to get to the shelters. And my mom’s phone has the sirens on it.
I’m guessing that the next question had to do with Israel.
Israel is this special place where everyone is JEWISH. Well, almost everyone. Get it? The whole place is JEWISH. So it’s not even strange to be Jewish there.
The sirens have inspired important (age-appropriate) conversations about the difference between Hamas and the Palestinian people. About why there is so much anger and hatred. About how the blood of Jewish boys and Muslim boys is equally as valuable before our one God, known to some as Elohim and to others as Allah.
Jacob has said that the thing he loves the most about Israel is how it isn’t permitted to pick flowers from public places because we are meant to protect God’s creation. Lilly is redirecting all of her tzedakah (charity) to helping the kids who are in the bomb shelters every day.” (My other son, Ben, is away at camp where, because of the nature of the kids’ disabilities, the situation is not being addressed with the campers.)
I want my children to hate violence and bloodshed and to love our homeland. Even though she exists in the constant shadow of destruction. And while it often seems as though the world harbors no love for us as Jews, I want them to know that there remain individuals of every race and in every nation who truly desire a peaceful resolution.
So yes, my phone is unmuted and the sirens blare. And all the while, our family continues to pray for the day when there is no need for an app called “Red Alert.”