Sderot Women enjoy Old City calm

Monday night brought much needed relief to a busload of women from the southern town of Sderot where Kassam rockets have been falling for weeks. They pulled up to the Dung Gate of the Old City and streamed out of the bus with babies, strollers, young children and pensioners. The group included secular and religious, Sabras and a cross-section of in-gathered exiles - Yemenite, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Russian and American. Some of the participants had never been to Jerusalem before. Others hadn't made the short trip in several years. Many had tears streaming down their faces as they were embraced by the Jerusalem women waiting to welcome them and to offer friendship and comfort to their Sderot sisters. Recently while making a Solidarity Visit for the new non-profit organization, TRUST, to the women of Sderot, Jerusalem residents Elana Rozenman and Maureen Kushner had asked them what might relieve the constant tension under which they live. "We'd like to get out of town," they told them. "Please, bring us to Jerusalem!" And so the idea was born to organize a trip to the Old City. Rebbitzin Mechi Fendel arranged for a bus to bring 52 women to Jerusalem for an evening. The women had the chance to pray at the Western Wall, eat a sumptuous fish dinner hosted by an Old City family on their roof, and take a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. The evening also gave the women an opportunity to sing and pray together far away from the falling of Kassams. During dinner, they told their Jerusalem counterparts how the bombardments had affected their lives. Ruth Metzina, a school secretary from Sderot, said that she had almost gotten used to the daily barrage of Kassam rockets hitting her neighborhood. "One day, the man next door said to me: my house will be next. He went to visit his daughter in Beersheba. Sure enough, the next day a Kassam hit his home, destroying his children's room. But, thank God, no one was home." The guest list swelled to around 100, including women refugees from Safed who are currently staying in Jerusalem, many of them still overwhelmed by the recent Hizbullah rocket attacks. One Jerusalemite, Ora Wolfe who works at the Center for Psychotrauma, spoke with the women struggling with trauma. Soon, Rozenman will be bringing additional busloads from Sderot and Safed, and a group of PEACE X PEACE interfaith women from Haifa. Anyone willing to contribute or participate, please call TRUST at 561-0256.