First time in SHELTER!

Almost as soon as I finished writing the last post – it needed an update!  The situation changed quickly and the next thing we knew sirens were screaming throughout Tel Aviv!

Rockets started lighting up the sky just before 9 last night. We were about to walk to our 9:00 dinner reservation with friends, when our babysitter heard the sirens. She opened the door to the garden and we heard the sirens screaming. There had been emails and posts all day updating people on what to do IF you hear sirens. We knew we needed to quickly get to the safe room or “mamad”in our apartment.

The mamad is a small room most apartments and homes have that were built after a certain date. It’s like a steel box with a steel door and some have special ventilation for chemical attacks.


Our safe room also has an iron gate that slides over the window.

I remember it was alarming to see on our first visit to Israel.  We rented an apartment that had one and we were fascinated by it. Now, it’s normal to see the mamad in almost every house we visit. It’s usually turned into a small office or bedroom like we use ours.


There are also public shelters across the city. Many people who don’t have mamads are told to go to the basement or stairways to wait it out.  If you are on the street, people grab strangers to bring them to the closest mamad. Our friend said the last time he heard sirens, he grabbed a teenager with headphones on oblivious to the noise. People who are driving when sirens go off often crawl under their car for shelter.

I was nervous and could hardly focus on anything but getting inside. I was frantically looking for my phone but gave up when it wasn’t visible.  We also forgot to close the metal shutters that line the windows in our apartment.  But, we made it inside.

We were all quiet as we heard loud booms going off outside. The building didn’t shake, but you could feel the power. Our safe room does not have internet connection.  We could get cell connection. 

Jim was very calm and on his phone watching the videos his Isreali friends were sending on WhatsApp. The girls were also amazingly calm and didn’t seem frightened which was good. Jim told me someone with close ties to the Israeli intelligence agency told him rockets would start flying at 9. He seemed prepared, but I wasn’t. This was new territory for me!  There was a break in the loud booms, so Jim went outside the mamad quickly to close the metal shutters and he also retrieved my phone. I saw several of my Isreali friends had called or messaged me…including my friend who lives upstairs. She wanted to make sure we were safe. She also was able to calm my nerves by reminding us to shut the iron gate on the window and explained what was happening. The iron dome or Israeli missile defense system was working intercepting all the missiles.  She also told me the app to download to see exactly where all the rockets were heading. 

We sat inside the mamad  listening to the blasts overhead for just over an hour before finally coming out.

During that time, we also sent several messages to Josh who is away at a boarding school nearby.  He told us he was safe inside one of the three shelters the school has for the students.


The school also sent photos to reassure parents since the kids are from more than 60 countries.  Josh tells me the discussions have been interesting among the students who include both Israelis and Palestinians.


We tried to continue the evening as normal for the kids. Jim went to put Mika to bed.  Our friends we originally had dinner plans with called to check on us.  We were all on edge and were also hungry!  We had missed our dinner and things were just starting to settle down, so we were all starving. They were sheltered in a stairway where someone had ordered a pizza before the sirens and actually had it DELIVERED during the blasts! 

They walked over and we quickly threw a meal together and ate outside while constantly checking news reports.  

We noticed the market across the street was still OPEN…in fact it never closed!  They told us they just watched the show in the sky while remaining open the entire time.  The streets were also beginning to fill up again.

We went to bed around midnight exhausted from the earlier events.  I slept quickly, and about 3 am Jim woke me up to say sirens were going off AGAIN!  We woke up the girls and headed back to the mamad.  This time we were prepared with pillows and blankets.  We heard the booms once again, but this time I was more calm and exhausted.  I was able to fall back asleep with the kids inside the room.  Jim woke me up a short time later and we went back to bed again.  It was one of the longest nights of my life.  In all, more than 400 rockets were fired into Tel Aviv last night! The good news is we are all safe!


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