One of the biggest blessings of our situation is the fact that we are staying with neighbors who have a girl Margalit's age (they are friends...usually...from age 0) and the family where we are staying have 2 older kids who have kept all their toys from childhood. So Margalit has tons of Barbies and other stuff to play with, in addition to videos, computer games, etc. I can only shudder to think of what is going on with families who are stuck in shelters with their kids 24 hours a day....today, a man who had just wandered out of his shelter in Nahariya was killed by a katyusha that landed next to him, so going out even for a moment is dangerous. I heard today that the army has sent in non-combat solders to the shelters to entertain the kids, play games with them, and give the parents a break, but that probably isn't for more than an hour or two...how can they manage? We are no longer talking about evacuating several tens of thousands of residents from Northern towns and villages...we are now talking about the evacuation of large cities as well, like Haifa, Acco, Tiberias, etc.
A friend called me yesterday to suggest that I get counseling for Margalit, even by phone. She said that because Margalit had been talking to the kids who got hurt by the Katyusha that landed near us, she might well be harboring some trauma that should be talked out. Margalit has talked with me about what happened, but it could well be that there's other stuff that I don't see, or that I don't know how to extract from her (prehaps she feels guilty that the other kids were hurt, while she wasn't, or that they were about to come over to our yard when the missile fell), etc. My friend told me that the psychological services are working overtime in the area, and that we can phone for advice -- I will do that.
One of the most interesting parts of this whole episode is the way that Tzfat people are keeping up with each other. Every time I open my e-mail, I see another couple of letters from friends, neighbors, and sometimes, simply people who I wave to here and there....where are you?
Livnot sent out a letter to all chevre (those whose e-mail that they know, anyway...people who have done Livnot throughout the last 26 years!) to update them. Evidently they are getting dozens of "how ARE you" letters daily, some from people who have been out of contact for years and years.
The Botzers, who founded LIvnot and still direct it (Aharon does, anyway...Miriam stays involved from behind the scenes) are still in Tzfat. Aharon and his son David race over to all katyusha landings, when they can, to help. The town is basically a ghost town, they said, though there are still many people who are unable to leave, so anyone who is able to help has a special mitzva. (The hospital was hit this morning...it's been a target since the katyushas began. Can you imagine? Targeting a hospital?)
Believe it or not, Livnot presently has 3 programs running --a birthright program, a JCSC Hillel intern program, and a 3-week program. Some participants cancelled, but many arrived, on schedule, yesterday. AMAZING! Obviously they won't be doing the Northern part of the program, but the Livnot campus in Tzfat isn't empty....Livnot invited much of the local security apparatus of the North to set up shop, and they are now living and working there. Those rooms stood through 2 earthquakes over the past several hundred years....who would have ever thought that they'd be used as bunkers against long-range missiles? Definitely not the Tzfatters of the 1600s who built them!