by Rachel and Moshe Saperstein

Americans have chosen Freedom. Freedom from God, morality, family and personal responsibility. May the All Merciful protect the USA, though I don't know why He should. — Moshe



by Rachel Saperstein
Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
November 18, 2012

The siren wails. Should I finish my breakfast or run in to the sewer pipe? I watch the neighbors run. Sarah is wearing large ear plugs and is carrying her kitten. The Ilans carry their puppy. Idit holds her little girl, Maayan. Her boys run behind her. We sit on the benches, facing one another. If we have made it inside in time we will hear the explosions in relative safety. The sound of the Iron Dome rocket smashing the incoming missile is loud and frightening. We all tremble. When we are in our caravillas the explosions make the house rattle. We don't dare leave the vicinity of our homes and shelters.

The telephone rings constantly. Children, other relatives, friends both here and abroad call. "Are you alright?" "How are you holding up?" "Come to us for Shabbat." "Come stay with us." "Get the hell out of there!" "Come visit us in New York/Miami/Los Angeles."

"Moshe," I plead, "the children are begging us... There is no shame in taking a break from the endless bombing." MMM [Macho Moron Moshe] refuses to leave. I peel a carrot and run to the shelter. I stuff a pepper and answer the phone. I peel half a potato and run to the shelter.

Four young girl soldiers live next door. They are soldier-teachers. I invite them for breakfast. They thank me profusely. I've never invited them into my house. But war is war, and they are frightened by the bombings. They need mothering, and a nourishing meal. Hours later they have been removed for safety from the caravillas. During these times I need to nurture. Sarah lives alone. I invite her for Shabbat lunch.

Saturday night Moshe and I take a brisk walk around the block. My first real walk in a week. My legs feel stiff. My body is stiff. I try to exercise but the endless tension doesn't allow muscles to relax. The streets are empty, save for dogs and cats. Many families have gone away for Shabbat. We enjoy the walk, but keep our ears alert for the siren. We note the sewer pipe shelters near each group of homes so we can take shelter if necessary.

This morning there are rumors of a cease fire. In the past this has meant that we have ceased and they have fired. I hope we don't fall into the same trap. We hope the army enters and destroys the rockets and those who fire them.

Two explosions but no sirens. Now the siren sounds. I have no strength to run for the shelter. Moshe makes me laugh when he puts on a colorful shower cap and declares it is his personal shelter.

I will try to keep you aware of our simple attempts to maintain our dignity and our sanity in this difficult time. We have been through so many wars. We have lived through so many attacks. Yet we go on. Somehow we find the strength to pursue a normal life despite the chaos around us.

Please pray for Am Yisrael.



by Rachel Saperstein
Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
November 20, 2012

The Sewer Pipe cum shelter is now the center of our lives. The pipes were brought here after the Cast Lead War began almost four years ago. Rockets were exploding over our heads. With no type of shelter to protect us in our flimsy caravillas, the government imaginatively came up with concrete sewer pipes as the answer to our problem. The pipes cannot protect us from a direct hit, only from shrapnel. Now, when the Iron Dome missiles shoot down a rocket, shrapnel from the two projectiles rain down on us. A friend just found pieces of a Grad rocket, brought down by Iron Dome, in his front yard.

The original sewer pipes, a monotonous grey, were decorated with splashes of color. Often a message of hope and a prayer to the Almighty were added to the paintings. Over time, wind and rain have faded the colors.

Short benches were added to make the pipes more comfortable. They are regularly used by teenagers. Coffee cups, Coke bottles, ice cream wrappers and sticks are everywhere. I often bring broom and shovel to clean the pipe. On one occasion municipal workers weeding a deserted lot piled the prickly weeds at the entrances to the sewer pipe. Complaints to the municipality yielded no results. So I called the police. Having asked the policeman for his name, and adding a bit of flirtatious charm to my request, the debris was soon removed. A neighbor and I swept up the bits and pieces left behind.

Two large tombstone-like concrete formations guard the openings to the sewer pipe. In one of the areas each opening was designated for men or women. A painting of 770 Eastern Parkway adorns the pipe.

With fifteen seconds to run to the pipe one must move quickly. Our caravilla front door is left ajar all day. Possible hindrances are checked and removed. Wet leaves, overgrown hedges, plastic bags, cigarette boxes and candy wrappers blown in by the wind are carefully removed each day.

The siren sounds. We meet in the pipe. There are not enough seats to go around so some of us stand. We always force a smile as the horrific sounds of rockets exploding nearby makes us tremble. "That was close!" brings more of a grimace than a smile. As does "That was loud!" Younger children sit tearfully on adults laps. Older children make a game of running up the cylindrical wars. We wait a few minutes after the sirens have ceased and the explosives have fallen. Then we return to our caravillas to cook, clean and listen to endless broadcasts on tv and radio. Programs are interrupted by announcements as to where the next rockets are headed, giving us a precious few extra seconds.

The sounds of war, the endless sirens and explosions, dictate our lives. This must stop. We pray to the Almighty to give our government the courage to finish this war properly.



by Rachel Saperstein
Neve Dekalim/Nitzan
November 22, 2012

Last night a ceasefire was declared. The Gazans couldn't control themselves. Dozens of rockets rained down on us in the last half hour before the ceasefire was due to begin, at 9pm. Sirens wailed constantly as we ran to the sewer pipe shelter over and over and over again. At 11pm there were two more rounds. They caught me fast asleep and only when I heard the explosions did I turn in my bed and go back to sleep.

It is morning. Calm has been restored. We get an SMS from Home Front Security: "Stay near a shelter. Schools remain closed. No large gatherings." We are non-believers in the ceasefire. We are cautious. Our ears await the next siren. My stomach is still in knots. Waiting.

One of my granddaughters was caught in Tel Aviv when the sirens began. She ran into a bank and found herself surrounded by pensioners in the bank vault. Her second siren found her in the Azrieli Towers, an upscale mall. There she stood, in a protected stairwell filled with shoppers and shopping bags, for a full ten minutes as recommended by Homeland Security.

Last night we promised a neighbor's children we would show them the famous Kassem rocket that had fallen on our lawn in Gush Katif. Printed clearly in Arabic on the rocket's fins are the words 'Al Kuds' meaning 'Jerusalem'. It is quite clear: their target is not the south of the country, but all of Israel as represented by our capital.

Late afternoon I took my daily walk around the block. The quiet is palpable. The lack of children playing outside, bicycles leaning against retaining walls, the musical change-of-period chimes in our makeshift schoolyards without the sounds of children, are all signs of a community that has evaporated.

It is raining. Blessed rain is falling on the land of Israel. The rain is our Jewish soul crying for our dead and wounded. There is thunder, much too similar to the sounds of an explosion.

I have made plans with my younger daughter to go shopping in Ashkelon on Sunday. A simple, ordinary task that we have had to postpone. Let us hope that the ceasefire holds.

OPERATION DIGNITY continues to help our people with the small but vital needs that government and large organizations cannot provide. Visit our website,, to learn more about us.


  Send Personal Dollar Checks to:

Central Fund for Israel
13 Hagoel Street
Israel 90435
Earmarked for: Operation Dignity


  Send Personal Shekel Checks to:

Central Fund for Israel
13 Hagoel Street
Israel 90435


Operation Dignity,
POB 445
Nitzan 79287
Earmarked for: Operation Dignity

Rachel Saperstein and her husband Moshe were among the thousands of Jews kicked out of their homes in Gush Katif in the Gaza strip in 2005. They were forced into temporary quarters so dismal, their still-temporary paper-based trailers in Nitzan, seemed a step up. Contact them by email at

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