main banner

Monday, November 26, 2012

Annandale youth experiences war in Israel



Limor Steinberg (left) studying with a classmate in Jerusalem.

When Annandale native Limor Steinberg moved to Israel in August, she knew the country was subject to frequent attacks from its neighbors, but she didn’t expect to be living in a war zone.

Steinberg, a 2011 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, had enrolled in a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem for intensive Torah studies and was still adjusting to the school routine and making new friends when Hamas stepped up its rocket attacks from Gaza a few weeks ago.

“When the bombing started, it was and it wasn’t scary. Jerusalem is mostly out of range of the rocket fire, so we didn’t feel it so much,” Steinberg says. But “Israel is such a small country, everyone knows someone who is affected. I have friends in the Army and it’s scary for them.”

“We had a few briefings about what to do if you’re at school or on the streets when there’s a siren indicating a bomb is on the way,” Steinberg says. People had 90 seconds to get into a shelter. “If  you’re out in the street and can’t get into a building, you’re supposed to crouch down and cover your head. It’s like what we did in the States for a tornado drill.”

Steinberg (lower left) arrives in Israel Aug. 14.
In Jerusalem, the sirens went off twice, she says. Fortunately, those rockets fell south of the city and they didn't kill anyone. The southern part of the country, closer to Gaza, was constantly under attack with rocket fire every 20 minutes or so, and people there only had 15 seconds to get to a shelter.

“It’s not so much that I was scared for my life, but it’s a scary feeling that people are shooting at you with the intention of trying to kill you and trying to scare you. It’s a really horrible feeling,” Steinberg says, noting that a siren warning of a rocket attack was like nothing she ever even thought about in the U.S. “We felt it was a little surreal, like it was a movie or something.”

Even though it was a horrible situation, she says, “it was very beautiful to see the entire nation coming together and taking care of each other.” Many people in Jerusalem invited families from the southern Israel to come and stay with them, and her school hosted 10 families from the South to stay in the dorms. “All of the dorms were pretty much full. So girls were sleeping on the floor.”

Steinberg grew up in an observant, but not Orthodox, family in the Wakefield Chapel area of Annandale and attended  Canterbury Woods Elementary School and Frost Middle School. She first traveled to Israel at age 16, and “I fell in love with it,” she says, adding, “I always felt a strong connection with it.”

As her faith deepened, she decided to put off college and instead delve into the religious texts in a school for girls in Jerusalem. “I knew there’s going to be a conflict and terror and war. I came into it with that mindset. It’s part of life here,” she says. “My parents were completely supportive and awesome about it.” They are definitely worried about her being in a war zone, but “they knew the situation I was going into, and we have lots of family here.”

After finishing her year of study, Steinberg says she might go into the Israeli army or enter the national service, the country’s alternative to the armed forces, and after that probably go to college.

Meanwhile, she is living in dorm-style apartments while attending school from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. During her time off she has been exploring the country and visiting with some of the 30 or so cousins she has there.

With the ceasefire, “everything is kind of turning to normal,” she says, although there’s “a collective holding of our breath. We don’t know how long the ceasefire is going to last.”

“People are praying a little extra. In my school, the Israeli girls are more used to this. The girls from America are feeling more tension,”  she says. The best thing to do is to “keep on with your normal life. The terror organizations want people to be scared.”

Steinberg wants the American people to recognize that “Israel completely has the right to defend itself. It’s so important for people to understand that.” She encourages people to read the news and be informed about what is really going on.

Despite the increased tension, “I will definitely stay,” Steinberg says. “It never even crossed my mind to leave. Israel is my home, and now I think it’s so important for me to be here.”

16 comments:

  1. I am sure it was a very stressful experience, but I suspect not nearly as frightening or genuinely dangerous as an equally devout young woman in Gaza would have experienced during the Israeli bombardment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael Baker11/30/12, 2:26 PM

      IF the Palestinians don't want to get shelled DON"T SHOOT ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL!!!
      It is a violation of international law.

      Delete
    2. You're comment is very thoughtful. Very well done sir.

      Delete
  2. It is nice to read about a student following her dreams. Not everyone needs to go to college right away, even someone from TJ.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What about the poor kids in Palestine? What Israelis are suffering is absolutely NOTHING compared to the horror Palestinians are subject to. Instead of slanting articles and following biased news sources, we should open our eyes to both sides of the story and resolve the issue fairly. Maybe if we stop "donating" billions of dollars to Israel every year, we could fund American education a little more.

    Regardless of how one feels about each religion, in this particular case, Palestine is the clear victim of oppression, terrorism, and hate crimes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael Baker11/30/12, 2:31 PM

      Have you been to Israel? Have you seen the carnage that the suicide bombers did before the walls went up? Have you seen the Arab textbooks, used in the US, that have no reference to Israel on their maps? Have you listened to HAMAS's calls for the death of all Jews? I'll use small words so you'll understand - if the Palestinians don't like being bombed - DON'T SHOOT ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL!! It is a violation of international law.

      Delete
    2. Michael, I am from Israel, so take a chill . I am also 100% Jewish. War is not a solution in this region. This government has done nothing to establish peace with Palestinians. Just yesterday Israel the government made an approval for new settlements. So, instead of being emotional see the facts. War is bad. no matter if Israel kills an innocent or a crazy Hamas guy.
      You American make our life hard in Israel with being radical. Stop it, we will figure out something soon.

      Delete
    3. Thank you for accepting my comment. I understand you love Israel. But loving Israel doesn't mean we accept whatever Israel's government does. We try to practice democracy in our country. War is not a solution. I don't want anybody get killed, not an Israeli not an Arab, not anybody. We have to find a solution to establish long lasting peace. We all want to help one another. We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. Not they kill us and we kill them. Not by saying we have the right to defend ourselves and they say we have the same right. We have to eliminate hate instead of annihilate militants. If we kill hate, militants will not be born. But greed has poisoned both sides souls, has fulfilled the region with hate. We have developed Iron Dome, but we have shut ourselves in. More than missiles, we need humanity. I promise one day we all celebrate the glory of dying hate with Arabs Jews and all people around the world.
      We just want peace, we don't want to be told what to do, what to think and what to feel! We don't want to be treated you like cattle. I believe, we the people, have the power, the power to create Iron Dome, and the power to establish peace! We, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful.

      Delete
  4. Perhaps some of the people who are commenting on this article are not aware that it is the Palestinians who fire rockets on a regular basis into areas inhabited by Israeli civilians. Israel can and should not tolerate putting their citizens life at risk on a daily basis. Israel does not cause the suffering of the Palestinians. Quite to the contrary. Israel is trying to protect innocent Palestinian civilians by warning them of the locations that they are targeting. What other country has ever done such a thing? Israel is an amazing country that has made tremendous contributions to the world in nearly every area of science and technology. I only wish the Palestinians would turn their focus to being productive contributors to the world instead of hate-filled killers of innocent people. They are the ones shooting into Israel. Israel should defend herself. If Mexico started shooting rockets into Texas, do you think the U.S. is going to respond. Of course we are. Israel has put up with terror for too long. This brave woman is an inspiration and a window into the suffering caused on a regular basis by the Palestinians.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Palestine is the clear victim of oppression, terrorism, and hate crimes." Really? What if the NON-militant Palestinians were to get the message to their militant brethren that they should stop trying to "erase" Israel, and stop literally terrifying its citizens, as the Arab "militants" are routinely trying to do, and stop routinely lobbing rockets into Israel on a nearly continuing basis? How many sane and informed people believe that Israel would be attacking Gaza if Gaza weren't CONTINUALLY bombing Israel? The number is, or at least should be, zero. Yes, many Palestinians suffer because Hamas violates international law by firing rockets from populated areas. Perhaps THEY should stop, and see if Israel continues its attacks. What a concept....

    ReplyDelete
  6. It is laughable that anyone could possibly suggest the Palestinians are victims. They send missiles to kill Israelis. The Israelis defend. The Palestinian terrorists hide behind women's skirts. When the women are hurt they claim "foul." The sympathy for Palestinian civilians is appropriate but they have nobody to blame but their terrorist beloved Hamas perpetrators. And that's how it is, whether the Arabs like the truth or not. Now look at Syria and see what they do to each other. Lovely culture this. It is sad they bring similar thinking to the United States, unwilling to see that in this country we try to see the facts and not just support a side with blindness. Of course, it's far easier to do that and that culture is well known for not encouraging independent though, preferring compliance and groveling in rage at any opportunity. Maybe in a few generations they will improve. For now, it is Israel that is the victim and the Palestinians the murderers. I personally have begun to believe that in the future the Israelis should simply send one missile back to Gaza for every missile that comes over the border into Israel from Gaza. What could be more just than that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim, These kind of thoughts just bring us more deaths. You live in the US and we in Israel have to pay for your radical beliefs.

      Delete
  7. What a brave girl. The impact of Gaza bombs in Israel is often underestimated. The Israeli government actually takes steps to protect its citizens and doesn't use people as human shields, as Hamas does in Gaza. Ironically, Hamas, the bombing instigator, actually gains international sympathy for that practice.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Michael Baker11/30/12, 2:25 PM

    The Palestinians elected HAMAS knowing full well that HAMAS refuses to accept Israel. And how long before the US would retaliate if Missiles or attacks were being launched from Mexico into the US - we invaded once already before WWI. England routinely ignored the boarder with Ireland while they fought with the IRA. HAMAS is a TERRORIST organization who refuses to abide by the rules of international law. If the Palestinians don't want Israel to retaliate - DON"T SHOOT ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll use small words, too. If your land had been taken from you by guilty Western powers -- your hundred-of-years-old olive trees plowed under -- your access to whatever land you have left denied -- your future bleak -- you just might SHOOT ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL, TOO!!!!

      Delete
  9. "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished"
    Ehud Olmert

    ReplyDelete