Monday, April 2, 2012

Accidental Siren

When you live in Israel, whether you like it or not, you will become familiar with the unmistakable wail of an air-raid siren. Some places (in the South, right now) regularly have air-raid sirens due to the very real missile attacks from Gaza. Those of us in the North only know these sirens from the occasional Pikud HaOref drill.

Until today. I was in my kitchen, trying desperately to pull together lunch in our very poorly stocked kitchen this week before Pesach. (Some people call it the "pre-Pesach famine" and I loved that name so much, I may just have to appropriate it!) This was after we had a close encounter with a bee. My 4 yr old had spent her morning crying, snuggling, and finally sleeping a bit. Then she woke up hungry and in need of the bathroom.

My kids were in various places around the house - one at the table, one on his computer, one playing with toys, and one on the toilet...

Suddenly, we heard the unmistakable wail of an air raid siren.

I hadn't heard of any drill going on today (they do have those, as they regularly test the siren system to be sure it is working). My heart stopped for a second. Then very calmly, I said, "Everyone run down to the miklat (bomb shelter)." Three children went. My 4 yr old calls out, "But Eema, I'm on the toilet!". I ran into the bathroom and said, "It's ok, let's just go down to the miklat." "But", she says, "I just made poopy!" Ok. Quickly, I grabbed a wipe and cleaned her up. Scooped her and the package of wipes from the bathroom, and we joined the other kids in the miklat, all before the siren had stopped its wailing.

At this point, I was pretty sure that there had been some mistake. We didn't hear any sirens or booms, although from the safety of our miklat, I'm not 100% sure what we would hear from outside. I told the kids we should stay put for a few minutes and then we'll assume it's all clear and go back to eating lunch. My 4 yr old (who had been cold, as she was only a little bit dressed, having shed most of her clothing in the bathroom, so she was now wearing my sweater and her tights...) starting singing "Eliyahu HaNavi" - one of her favorite songs to sing on Motsaei Shabbat. So we joined her, I figured it must be calming for her, and we could all follow her cue.

When we were done, we ventured out. I had a list in my head of all the things we need to stock the miklat with (my 7 yr old asked if we had any water or food in there, 9 yr old wanted to know what to do if we were in there and we needed the toilet, my 13 yr old and I had been discussing flashlights and a battery-powered radio...). And we went back upstairs and ate lunch, grateful for the news that it had merely been a system error - an accidental siren.