JAFI War Diary from Southern Israel - Ravit Ohayon-Michal

Reprinted from JAFI.org; original available with other War Diary entries here.

January 14, 2009 / 18 Tevet 5769

I couldn't sleep Monday night. I couldn't stop thinking about our soldiers who are still fighting in Gaza and because of them things are quiet tonight. I thought about Nir, our Net@ counselor, and other friends who are fighting. But, with all this, in the morning I woke up with an optimistic feeling that things are starting to get better.

Both children went to Ori's gan in the morning, and I was very glad. I was able to continue to work in Sderot. In the afternoon, I was completely engaged in a car call when suddenly I noticed cars and trucks stopping in the middle of the street, and people running to the side of the road. It seems that I'm really feeling like things are normal, because my initial thought was that it was an accident. And then I noticed that people were not running to the roadside, but to houses nearby. And suddenly it registered that I had heard a red alert alarm. I stopped immediately and ran quickly to a protected place. This was terribly frightening.

In the last few days, as part of our attempt to get back into our regular activities, and until we will have regular staff meetings, I check with each one of the professionals and coordinators in charge of projects in my region to see what issues they are facing and how they plan to return to normal when this war ends. The Youth Futures' social worker told me that she is in constant contact with the Youth Futures Trustees.

Tuesday there was a day of learning for all of the Youth Futures coordinators in the South. The main discussion revolved around the issues raised last week – the fighting in the South and its influence on Youth Futures.

Net@ graduates from Sderot and Eshkol went to visit Amdocs in Ra'anana. This is within the framework of their leadership year. They met with Net@ graduates from all over the country and it was a very special experience for them.

It is so difficult to do the normal things that we used to take for granted. My hairdresser is from Rishon Letzion, in central Israel, and it was no problem for me to go there to get my hair cut. However, given the situation he knew that I was afraid to leave my children by themselves, and he also knows how important my hairstyle is to me. So he came down to Ashkelon, risking missile attack, just to style my hair. I was so appreciative. This is a symbol of how the people out of the range of fire are trying to care for us and to support us in any way they can. It reminds me of how in times of need we are like one large family, all caring for each other.

Ravit Ohayon-Michal is director of the Jewish Agency's Israel Department activities in Sderot, Eshkol and Sha'ar Hanegev. She lives in Ashkelon.