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.
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.
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.