Dispatch from Israel: JSC Fellows

As tensions in Israel continue to escalate, we asked several of our JDC Entwine Jewish Service Corps volunteers to share observations based on their experiences on the ground. As we hear from more of our Fellows, we'll continue to update this space.

Melanie Borcover, Los Angeles native and Jewish Service Corps volunteer with Ashalim

Having lived in Israel during the 2012 operation in Gaza, and going the entire time without hearing a siren, I never thought I would. Tuesday night, however, while watching a TV show with my roommate, it happened. We ran downstairs to the shelter before I could even comprehend that it was real. All the neighbors were gathered, and as we listened to the thuds, the elderly man from across the hall counted them aloud to the group. A few minutes later, we returned to normalcy. The rest of the night, I felt safe, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there would be more. I live next to a hospital and every time an ambulance went by my window I had to pause and listen to see if it was a siren, or The Siren. It reminded me of life in Southern California, where after an earthquake I would be a bit jumpy for the rest of the day, wondering whether or not there would be an aftershock. I have always felt safe in this country, and continue to do so, but I can’t help thinking of all the people in the South, the children especially, who live in constant worry.

Erica Shaps, Chicago native and Jewish Service Corps volunteer with TEVET

When I first heard the siren blare in the center of the Carmel Market, I assumed it had to be a drill. Could rockets really rain down on the streets of downtown Tel Aviv? After an abrupt reality check, I ran back into the STRIVE Tel Aviv office for shelter. A few hours later after I returned home, I heard the sirens go off in the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. As I sat in the shelter I felt limited far beyond my physical constraints: I felt disempowered and helpless. I also felt a heightened awareness of how fortunate I am to carry an American passport and live in an area where sirens, booms, and violence are still infrequent occurrences. Even in the shelter I felt safe, supported, and physically OK, unlike so many others. Since then, my thoughts have been almost exclusively with the millions of people surrounding me who are not so lucky. I realize I am not actually helpless. I must use my privilege and the opportunities I have through JDC to work with those who are suffering and support those who are most vulnerable in any way I can.

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