In Hadera it’s safe… strange.

By Michael Shandler, Boger of HDOZ, Shorashim Madrich

I woke up Saturday morning, looked at my phone and found an unusual amount of messages, all asking if I was okay. Oh no…What happened? I thought. A quick search and I understood rockets were being fired from Gaza. Something I’ve experienced before, something I was relatively unconcerned about and something I was sure was to end soon anyway. I replied to those messages as such. I jumped onto a Zoom call with some of my Chanichim in Australia and New Zealand and assured them of my safety.

In Hadera, it’s safe…

Strange to be saying those words now. Because they’re still true, throughout the week they’ve been true. But, as that Saturday unfolded, it became increasingly clear that it was something I, nor anyone else, had experienced before but felt horribly familiar. I started asking myself the same questions I asked myself as the pandemic started… Wtf is this thing, what will it turn into, what do we do and how long will it last? But,

In Hadera, it’s safe?…Strange.

As the days went on, I was unable to find any answers. Unprecedented; a word that was seemingly invented (of course it wasn’t) during Covid, started being thrown around again. Filling me with all sorts of doubt. My friends in the south and in Tel Aviv were in and out of bomb shelters over the coming days; or they were being called up to army reserve duty all around the country to replace those who would be sent closer to the immediate conflict; or they were leaving the country; or, like me, they were in Hadera, safe… Strange.

I was lucky enough to find some comfort and solace in the work I was lucky enough to continue. Working with HDNA and HDUK shanatties on Kibbutz Ein Ha’Shofet, a short drive away from Hadera. I was lucky enough to have a car, since public transport, we were told by the movement, was too dangerous right now. I would message my madricha, the movement safety hotline, friends and my parents telling them each time I left or arrived at my destination (I’m very lucky to have such a large support network). And certainly, to never drive further south. Because,

In Hadera, it’s safe.

Strange, because there were now sirens in the north and sirens in the centre and sirens in the south. Not me though. What world am I living in? Part of me feels like I’m in a different country experiencing this all from the outside…Except for the constant sounds of helicopters and jets flying overhead, except for the roads feeling eerily quiet, except for the lack of toilet paper and bottled water in supermarkets (they had all been bought to either restock homes/shelters or donated), except for the TV showing an overlay image of where the sirens were sounding at any moment, except for my home being unusually full of people during the weekday, except for the fear that maybe one of the terrorists escaped north and found his way to little old Hadera. Because,

In Hadera, it’s safe… strange.

I sit here on the plane to Australia, racked with guilt (but not too racked, which makes me feel even guiltier) for leaving my home, my friends, my family, the people who are protecting my home. Applying for Australian emergency evacuation flights, in front of my Israeli-born housemates. Vividly reminding me of the immense privilege I have, and did nothing to earn. Whilst they, with the rest of my kvutza, continue to work with chanichim all around the country, lifting their spirits, distracting them from war, having fun. I’m  so immensely proud of them. But here I am leaving (earlier than intended) (important to note I was meant to be leaving around this time anyway for my brother’s wedding). Listening to so many outside the country who have asked me to seek safety. Safety? But,

In Hadera, it’s safe… Strange.

I hope this little reflection, poem, portal inside my head, whatever it is, gives you some insight into what I’ve been feeling and thinking. Like one of those videos showing how both big and tiny the earth is in comparison to the universe. It both means nothing and also means everything. This drop of water in the ocean of perspectives.

Anyway, in Hadera, it’s safe. Long may it stay that way.