Whistles, Bells And Sirens

She woke up early to get her children prepared for school, when she realized the older ones had off, her regular morning routine slightly altered she decided to cover up under the blanket, for just two more minutes. Thats all she wanted was two more minutes.

Time flew by, the children left with sandwich baggies of pretzels and apple slices as they shouted their goodbyes. She started to prepare her kitchen for the feast she was about to prepare. 2 bags of flour, check. 1 bag of sugar, check. Vanilla, salt, eggs, yeast, baking powder, potatoes, sifter, cutting board, knife, peeler, carrots, celery, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, check. She remembered she wanted to start a load of laundry while she let her yeast bubble. 10 minutes later, she returned to the bottom floor to find her husband sorting through years of a files that needed to be purged and reorganized. She watched him for a few minutes before calling out his name. He looked up and she wished him a happy anniversary. He smiled brightly and said the same. Fifteen years had gone by and they were still the best of friends, as if the wedding bells just tolled. Without the need for lengthy conversation she walked her way back to the kitchen to continue what she had started. She slowly sifted the flour thinking of her loved ones, the sick ones, the ones riding bikes, the old ones, the little ones, the ones lining up her streets to welcome back the rider cheering and whistling, and as she kneaded her dough and placed it to rest so it could rise she took a deep breath.

The day was filled with noise, mostly children’s chatter and looking at school projects and chasing runny noses with tissues. With the smells of the food emanating from the kitchen she remembered her rising dough. She removed the damp towel to see the air-bubbled-dough disappear when she punched it down. Then turning it onto a floured surface, she  closed her eyes again, pulled off a piece to burn as is customary and said a small but powerful prayer as midday approached.

Again, she thought of her friends cheering the rider on, she thought of her sick friends and family, she thought of the sons that were called in as soldiers to act as agents sent to protect us from our enemies. Naturally she cried.

“The ingredients have skillfully been mixed together, and pliable dough has been formed. Amid the delicious aroma that has begun to envelop the kitchen, the woman of the home pauses for an introspective moment. She separates a portion of the dough and says the blessing. She then lifts it up and says, “This is challah.” This conscious act signifies her recognition that the dough, and by extension, all of our material success, is not simply a result of human effort, but is a gift from G-d.”

Later that day amid the mound of laundry she was folding, she thought of her daughter. Making all the preparations for her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah party she tried to remind herself the need to spend time with her on helping her write the speech. She reflected how the last 15 years went by. Trying to recall coming home with all those new babies, seeing them for the first time, having to care for them when the grandparents finally left. She thought about their first steps, the first time they tasted real food, the first time they said her name. Then she wiped away her tears with a laugh remembering how they bellow her name now from different parts of the house begging for her attention. The voices are clearer and deeper but they need her just the same.

After her shower when the house was settled and the men had left for their evening prayer service and her children were playing nicely downstairs she stood by her bedroom window just as she does every week after lighting her Sabbath candles. Looking up and down the block at all her neighbor’s dressed in their finest, walking to synagogue, she inhaled deeply. Then she looked out at the horizon as the colors of the sky started to blend into a beautiful rainbow.

“It’s been a long time”, she thought as she stood by her window listening to the sound of the siren warning all its inhabitants that they were under attack. The siren was loud enough, clear enough, but not sounding off in her neighborhood. She wasn’t nervous but she was alert, and was searching the sky for a sign perhaps a missile overhead or the sound of a loudspeaker with instructions, but there was nothing but the wailing siren. She stood ever so silently and then she heard the impact. Something nearby was hit.

She closed her window and ran down the stairs to see if anyone needed anything. No one even stirred because they were too intent on their game. She was only 18 years old the last time she heard that siren. Only then she went running up the stairs, sealed off in a room with her gas mask on.

This was not something new to her, it was almost as if she were ready. She knew that she was in the most protected place and that G-d was on her side. There were things in life that she could and could not control and this was one of those things she had no control over. She had learned the hard way that when there was something she had no control over to let it happen and hope for the best.

The rest of the weekend was quiet for her and her family, but not so in the rest of the land. She went on a date with her husband and the people about were doing what they would normally do on any given Saturday night in Jerusalem. That was surreal. The message was that they were not afraid. They put their faith in the Holy One. While her mind was still on those running for safety she was able to enjoy her freedom.

She looks forward to the day when all will be quiet and the land will be peaceful once again.


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