Jul 26, 2022  By Robyn Schneider  Category: Blueprint Negev,

Taking Shelter: From Chicago to Sderot

Something happened last month that was completely ordinary for summer months in Chicago, Illinois. The tornado sirens alerted that we needed to take shelter. Given that they are tested monthly – usually Tuesdays at 10am - it took me a minute to realize that this siren was “for real”.

So, I finished the corner of the puzzle I was working on, paused Netflix, and headed downstairs to my basement with my dog. After exchanging texts with colleagues to ensure everyone was safe, I resumed my show and waited for the storm to pass.

But then something completely unordinary happened. As I heard the rumblings of thunder, I thought to myself how different my experience was at that moment from those who hear siren alarms in Sderot, Israel, on the border with Gaza. I thought about the similarity of the sound of each thunderclap to the sound of rockets being intercepted. I thought about how I had leisurely taken my time to go to the basement for shelter, simply inconvenienced by the change in venue.

Sderot is called the “City of 15 Seconds” because if a Red Alert sounds, you only have 15 seconds to find safety. My complete disregard for immediacy to seek shelter during this recent tornado is a luxury that I never comprehended before visiting Sderot a few months ago, where I saw the indoor recreation center Jewish National Fund-USA had built and the bomb shelters we help to paint with donors around the United States. Painting these bomb shelters helps children in particular feel more comfortable running into them when a siren sounds.  

It had warmed my heart to see the haven we help to provide, but I remembered at this moment the hell they often endure. So, the next time the tornado sirens sound, I won’t be thinking about jumping in the bathtub for safety, I will think about those who are running for their lives.