Visiting Sderot

by Miriam Alexander, Year Course participant

I first visited Sderot summer of 2012 through Young Judaea’s 5-week Machon program, and to be honest, I felt distanced from the experience. I did not understand the depth of the conflict at that time and saw myself as an outsider looking in on a situation about which I had yet to develop an opinion. With the new ideas and perspectives I have gained over these last 7 months in Israel, I felt I could relate to the people in Sderot. While I am fortunate enough to live in an area that is more secure, it is possible I too could be subject to the terrorism and PTSD that these residents suffer. Experiencing daily Israeli culture granted me a kinship with Israelis; it is not far-fetched to imagine myself in their position.

Exploded rockets in the Sderot Media Center

Exploded rockets in the Sderot Media Center

On our Siyur we were led by the director of a media coverage group who explained the danger the residents of Sderot face daily.  He showed us a film clip made by the organization called “15 Seconds”.  The video showed what happens in the city once a Tzeva Adom (code red) siren goes off; everyone immediately runs to the nearest bomb shelter and counts down from 15 until a rocket lands.  “15 Seconds” is a very emotional video that captured all of our attentions.  From there we went on a short tour through Sderot including a stop at a playground made famous for its creation of a bomb shelter in the shape of a caterpillar.  It is both amazing, and awful, what the children of Sderot learn at a young age.  Instead of nap-time and monkey bars, these children are witnessing fire and destruction.  It is no wonder most of these children suffer from PTSD.

A bomb shelter shaped as a caterpillar

A bomb shelter shaped as a caterpillar

 

I am grateful to have visited Sderot with Young Judaea –  it is very important for Year-Coursers to visit the city and gain perspective after learning so much about the Arab-Israeli conflict.