With a pretty long laundry list to discuss with God, I made sure to get to shul on time on Friday night. The shul I usually attend, Yakar, opens with some soulful singing before Kabbalat Shabbat. We were singing a song from Shir Hashirim:
השבעתי אתכם, בנות ירושלים: אם-תמצאו, את-דודי–מה-תגידו לו, שחולת אהבה אני.
‘I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, what will ye tell him? that I am love-sick.’
As we sat in shul, yearning for God, for God’s love for His people, for His love for Jerusalem, my friend turned to me with eyes wide open: “There’s an azaka.” But I’m singing to God. But I’m begging for His love and attention and protection. But we’re in Jerusalem.
We couldn’t hear anything over the singing, and we just stared at her. Here? Here?! How can this be? Is nowhere safe? The singing continued until she shouted, “יש אזעקה!” and then we heard it – the rise-and-fall wailing siren, only 40 minutes after the beautiful siren that announces Shabbat in Jerusalem.
Turns out you can hear the “boomim” from quite a distance.
Jerusalem, my beautiful city, is not prepared for this. Our buildings don’t have safe rooms. Our residents don’t know where the nearest miklat is.* Even during the Gulf War, scuds were never launched toward Jerusalem. But on Friday, Hamas sent a missile headed for the Knesset; it landed near a Palestinian village instead. (I seriously, for the life of me, cannot understand what they were thinking with this move.)
We spent the rest of Shabbat sifting through rumors of where the rockets had landed, preparing as best we could in case of another siren, and desperately passing the time until we could turn on our radios again.
*Take note, Jerusalemites – the miklatim were unlocked on Friday. Find your nearest one here: http://www.jerusalem.muni.il/jer_sys/publish/files/17839/128212123117.pdf