Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 24: Tragedy Strikes

Today was both amazing and difficult at the same time. After two days of round trip traveling back and forth between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, getting very little sleep both nights, and being on my feet all day both days in the summer heat, I had a very hard time forcing myself to wake up this morning for Ulpan due to sheer exhaustion. The fact that I am up writing this blog at 1am is a miracle in and of itself (one that I will be paying for tomorrow and Saturday when I find that I can't keep my eyes open). Anyways, I made it through the day with very little trouble (thank you Israeli iced coffee), got home, and got ready to take what I thought would be an amazing nap; one that I so desperately needed. Well, first of all they are doing construction in my apartment building, so every time I would finally begin falling asleep they would start in with the jack hammering... Obviously this was a huge snag in my plan to sleep. After straddling the line between awake and asleep for about 30 minutes I was woken up to a text message from one of my friends asking me if I had heard what had just happened in the South of Israel. 

I had no idea what was going on since I was sleeping, but the tone of the text message was one of urgency. I immediately jumped out of bed, turned on both the news and my computer, and heard the news that everyone who lives in Israel fears: Coordinated terrorist attacks were carried out in the city of Eilat, which is one of Israel's most popular tourist and vacation destination. The terrorists came into Israel from Egypt's Sinai Desert, murdered close to 10 people, and injured over 20. Ever since Egypt's government collapsed, there are very relaxed restrictions in it's Sinai region, making it very easy for militants to sneak in to Israel. My heart sank. Hearing about terrorist attacks in Israel from the United Sates is a horror unto itself, but to actually be living here, only a few hours away from an attack, brings up so many feelings that you can't even imagine if you don't live here. It is a mix between anger, vulnerability, sadness, and fear, and it hits you like a ton of bricks. As amazing as Israel is, there is a harsh reality to be faced by anyone who lives here. Israel is a target to all of her neighbors who are powerful, wealthy, militant, and don't want her to exist. A few hours ago Israel retaliated in Gaza so the tension in the region is very high. Only time will tell what the next step will be, but as for me, I pray that we stay in relative peace and don't need to go to war in Gaza. Unfortunately, the reality is such that if attacks keep happening, Israel will be forced to defend herself and her people, and I will be there offering any help I can give, and supporting this amazing country every step of the way. 

After life settled down a bit I got ready to meet Susanna in Jaffa where we were going to go to the last street fair of the summer and have dinner at our new favorite restaurant, Abu Lafia. While we were eating dinner I got a surprise call from my friend Sarah, who lived and studied with both Susanna and me two years ago in Jerusalem. I knew she was in town but had no idea that she would have time tonight to come see us. We we all so excited to be reuniting! Sarah got into Jaffa and we all decided to walk around the street fair for a little while. We went into a few shops, enjoyed the street performers, and had the best time just catching up. Sarah has been studying in London for a year and is working for a big financial firm there. After we walked around we decided to do what we did almost every night in Jerusalem when we lived there; go to another hookah bar! This was again a new one and we had a great time smoking hookah, catching up, and enjoying the evening. There was a big soccer game in Israel so the streets were very crowded and many people were out celebrating their teams. 

After a few hours it was time to say goodnight, but we are all meeting tomorrow at the beach so it was more of a "farewell for now" instead of goodbye. My friend Dana and Uriel (who is friends with Susanna as well) will also be joining us tomorrow, so we will really have a nice group of us together co-enjoying our days off from work and school. As I finish this post I ask everyone to pray for peace in this volatile region. I hope to see the day where terrorist attacks, bomb blasts, and gun shots aren't apart of every day life in the Middle East, but until then all we can do is pray and work very hard to try and find a solution. 

Am Yisrael Chai (The Nation of Israel forever)
Jordana Pepper 

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