When Sirens Sound

Where I am currently living in the US, they test the sirens every Friday at 11 a.m. That took me a LONG time to get used to when I came back from Israel. In fact, I’m still not completely used to it. However, we need those sirens to work because a tornado gives very little warning before it strikes, and Indiana is BIG tornado country.

We don’t have tornados in Israel.

We have memories. We have threats. We have history.

When sirens sound, we stand silent in memory of millions who died. We hear the cry of those who suffered.

We ache.

When sirens sound, we stand silent and think of the boys and girls who gave their lives so that a tiny country called Israel could live free.

We ache.

There have been times that, when sirens sound, we put on our gas masks and assemble in sealed rooms. (War is like that.)

We ache.

Then there are times when sirens sound for the future. Today was like that.

I was talking with a good friend yesterday and told him that I’d be back in Israel within a year or two.

“I hope we’re all still here,” he said.

My friend fears for the future; aches for it, really.

The sirens that sounded today were a practice for war. Israelis practiced putting on their gas masks and assembling into sealed rooms. Cleanup teams and army units practiced their responses to threat and catastrophe.

I can tell you that when sirens sound like that…

We ache.

There is a special kind of dread when you practice for a future that adds nuclear weapons to the mix of biological and chemical – when nations and peoples threaten to destroy all that is good, all that you hold dear.

But, there is another kind of siren. 

About an hour before sundown, this Friday afternoon, sirens will sound across the country. Israelis will put down tools and gather their families. They will sit at their tables and eat and laugh and talk and laugh some more.

There is no fear or dread or ache in the siren that signals the beginning of Shabbat (the Sabbath) in Israel.

I miss that siren.