Sunday, July 23, 2006

Spirit of Haifa
Maimon Schwarzschild

Menachem Kellner, who teaches at Haifa University, has been posting about life in wartime Haifa.  His posts -- sent to friends, now including TheRightCoast -- have the wry spirit of the Blitz: or what would have been the spirit of the Blitz if wartime London had been in Israel instead of Britain.

Jolene is Menachem's spousal unit, as we sometimes put it hereabouts, and a librarian at Haifa University; Rivka is their daughter, a graduate student at Haifa University.

Haifa-ites were urged to go back to work today, and indeed many did.  I drove Jolene and Rivka to the University and came home. About 20 minutes ago the sirens wailed and I went to the shelter-room by my lonely self and heard several really loud BOOMs. I called Rivka (on the cell phone of course) and found her in a copy shop on campus having the first complete draft of her dissertation being printed.  It should have been a happy moment, instead she was being shepherded to an underground shelter, where she hooked up with Jolene (who is one ofthe library bomb wardens).

The TV reports that a house (apparently in Nesher, a Haifa suburb) took a direct hit, killing one person; and another person was killed sitting in his car somewhere else in the city. I say apparently in Nesher (which is just on the other side of the Technion campus from our house) since FINALLY the news media have stopped announcing exact addresses.  To our utter amazement for the first several days the radio and TV were saying exactly where these things landed, just to make life easier for Hezbollah.

The radio just announced that 13 rockets landed in Haifa this time, although I am pretty sure I only heard about 6-7.  I'd better get my hearing checked.

One thing is for sure - this the last day we will split up! Tomorrow, if the University remains open, I will spend the day there with Jolene and RIvka, even though I get much more work done at home.

UPDATE:  We Israelis are weird. As you know from my earlier post, two people were killed here in Haifa today. A few hours after that tragedy I drove up to the University, where Jolene and Rivka were (Rivka, by the way, has decided that she has had enough quality time with her parents and has moved back into her own apartment). I had just gotten to Jolene's department in the library (periodicals) when an alarm sounded. I met Jolene coming out of her area, trying to reach me on her celphone.  Together we went down to the bomb shelter in the basement of the building with a lot of other people,
chatting and to all intents and purposes enjoying the break from their routine. On the way down we reached Rivka by celphone [this whole affair would be a lot less tolerable without celphones], who spends most (normal) days in my 13th floor office in the 30-story Eshkol Tower at Haifa University.  People in theTower had been instructed to take shelter...

BOOM! - Jolene and I just heard a boom so we headed out to the shelter, calling Rivka as we went - she was calling us at the same time having also heard the BOOM, on the way to recline in her bathtub, which is the place in her apartment furthest from an external wall. No alarms, no further BOOMs, so we resumed what we were doing, which, in my case, was writing to you --

We were instructed, as I was saying, to take shelter in a stairwell which is what Rivka did today, 5 times. In any event, when we were finally released from the shelter (aka a complex of copycenters and a windowless cafeteria) and returned to the library, all was
business as usual, as if nothing had happened.

SIREN! - sorry for these interruptions. Rivka just called as we were heading out to the shelter again; she said that her apartment must be right on top of a siren, since it was REALLY LOUD.  The TV reports: several people slightly injured from this last attack -- a propane gas tank burning -- and perhaps people trapped in the ruins of the affected building.

Another interruption, but happier. As I was typing this letter (or trying to, despite Nasrallah's best efforts), Jolene was watching the TV reports about the latest attack.  But now neighbor Hannah and Jolene are having an animated and joyful conversation about... shoes!  Why don't they at least talk about something interesting, like computer peripherals?

Anyway, I was telling you how the people in the University Library responded so casually to the repeated alarms. Quite remarkable to see.

There is a general consensus here, by the way, that the "situation" is bad for dieting - I can certainly attest to that. At least we will have a good excuse when we go to our dietician next time.

I hope that this is the last time you hear from today.

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Spirit of Haifa
Maimon Schwarzschild


When WWII started the BBC's television service was suspended. I wonder how different response to the Blitz might have been if TV broadcasting had continued.

Posted by: dearieme | Jul 28, 2006 8:10:01 AM