This message was sent to the CHAI (Cleveland Hometown Association in Israel) list by Sandi Friedman who lives with her family in Saad, a kibbutz just minutes from the Gaza border.
Even though it’s almost 1 a.m. – I had to write to you before I went to bed and tell you what an amazing evening we just had here on kibbutz Sa’ad.
But before I tell you about the evening; I will start with this afternoon.
Around 4 p.m. all the kibbutz members received SMS messages saying that 200 soldiers were arriving on the kibbutz – right off the battlefields of the Gaza strip — and they were able to take a night off and rest in relative security. They were in need of showers since they hadn’t had the opportunity to wash up in a very long time (the foot soldiers have been inside for about 10 days now). We were asked to come “adopt” a soldier for the evening to give him a chance to freshen up , eat a home-cooked meal, etc.
Well, within less than 5 minutes, no joke, we received an SMS message saying not to come to the school gym anymore, that there were no more soldiers left.
People here baked, cooked dinners, offered their homes and showers to our brave IDF soldiers; such a good feeling to be able to give them back something after they risked their lives to protect us, the citizens of the south.
Now to the events of this evening…
There was a three-hour concert. Famous singers and musicians, sound people, cameramen, etc. etc. from all over the country came to give us a free concert. The evening sing-along was attended by so many people from neighboring kibbutzim. Both religious and non-religious, young and old. It was so heartwarming to have everyone sitting and singing
together. Dancing together, laughing together, having a good time. A bakery donated cakes for the evening. A kibbutz in the north donated pomegranite juice. We were given small Israeli flags to wave, in between clapping. The soldiers who are our guests tonight joined in and we all danced and sang together and waved our flags; we didn’t want to stop. The songs were of peace, of happiness, patriotic songs, old-time tunes, and inspirational songs also like “Am Yisroel Chai”.
All I can say is that for three wonderful hours, the only noise we heard was the sound of music – not helicopters, no sirens, no cannons, nothing. We all had a chance to unwind and smile and relax. Also, what I really loved was so many people coming together from across the political and religious spectrum — the UNITY was so contagious and an undescribable feeling to experience. Here in the middle of a war; we could be together, united and singing.
As a contrast – the head of Hamas gave an interview with Al Jazeera TV. He called for continued fighting at all cost; asked for more volunteer “shahidim” – martyrs – and is not willing to stop the aggression. We again began a humanitarian cease fire for a few hours today so the citizens of Gaza could go out and get drinking water and food; who broke
the cease fire? Hamas — as they have each time. They even took advantage of safe passage areas to transfer weapons. It’s difficult for me to even begin to comprehend their mentality.
Now, back at home, with constant helictopters flying overhead and shooting — I wish we could still be in the middle of a concert.
Maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon, I know this will end, our brave IDF soldiers will have completed their mission and the south of Israel will again be a quiet and beautiful place to live.
Best regards from Sa’ad,
Keep in touch,
Sandi recently wrote an informative article for the Cleveland Jewish News titled Life on a Kibbutz 3 miles from Gaza border that includes photos.