War comes to Modi’in

Modi’in isn’t in the South and close to Gaza. Not in the North and close to Hezbollah. It’s smack in the Center, “far away” from all the fighting and rockets.

Modiin Anabeh park 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Modiin Anabeh park 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Modi’in may be one of the safest (so far) cities in the country, a kind of middle Israel where everything closes early and nothing terribly interesting is supposed to happen, but war has finally come to its doorstep.
Modi’in isn’t in the South and close to Gaza. Not in the North and close to Hezbollah. It’s smack in the Center, “far away” from all the fighting and rockets.
It isn’t an overly important international city like Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, hitting which could be a major propaganda win.
The residents are mostly middle class and fairly homogeneous, with virtually no intergroup friction and the hot debate being where to build the next park.
When there was a completely false report of a child abduction, some of us joked it was overzealous Modi’in residents trying to feel like they were at the center of the storm.
For the first several days of this war, I followed on The Jerusalem Post WhatsApp group all of the reports by my colleagues in several locations running to their saferooms, bomb shelters or even hitting the deck, with sympathy, but some detachment.
Eventually, we had a few sirens, but then we had another full week break while Tel Aviv was getting tons of rocket-attention, and all of them except for one (in which Iron Dome shot down a rocket that was considered close enough to possibly hit the area) were false alarms for rockets headed toward other more important locations.
Interrupting dinner at a café, prematurely ending a jog or jumping out of the shower to move our kids into our saferoom was highly inconvenient, and I finally got to chime in on WhatsApp, but the war has still felt distant.
That ended for me on Tuesday at the funeral of Lt.-Col. Dolev Keidar, 38, married to Michal, father of three and commander of the Geffen Battalion at the IDF’s Officer Training School (Bahad 1).
I don’t remember meeting Keidar, but he and his family live around the corner from me and it’s hard to believe that our paths did not cross.
The Keidars live next to my synagogue and a former nursery of one of my sons, where they may have sent kids.
At our makolet (small grocery store) across the street where I show up sometimes multiple times in a day, the storekeeper was reminiscing about Dolev and Michal as regulars.
At the funeral, I knew multiple IDF and other officials who were close with and had come to mourn Keidar.
What drove it home for me, though, was standing next to a couple I’ve known for years from synagogue and watching them sobbing and struggling to remain standing through the funeral.
Multiple rounds of emails from local email lists were sent around Tuesday to find nearby places to stay for Keidar’s outof- town family.
When police officer Baruch Mizrahi was killed by a terrorist on Passover Eve, I had a bit of a similar feeling since his family is in Modi’in and one of his kids attends school with one of my sons and his wife, Hadas, spoke at a school ceremony.
But this was much closer, it was literally close to home.
Part of the story is Modi’in in general, and our neighborhood corner in particular.
The entire country will lose husbands and sons in this war, but Modi’in is a military family city, with several consecutive years being the city with the highest proportion of young Israelis enlisting at over 80 percent, and a high number joining combat units.
Anecdotally, likely around 50 percent of my street and nearby ones are military officers, many of them in combat and the streets regularly filled with uniformed parents of high ranks.
That means that while Modi’in had it easy when the war was a rocket war, now that it has become a ground forces war, Modi’in may have a larger than average number of losses – its second loss being announced late Tuesday as Lt. Natan Cohen, 23 – incidentally, and jarringly (I assumed it was our neighbor when I saw the online announcement – until I saw the picture) also the name of another army officer who lives across the street from us.
Modi’in is still probably among the safest places for civilians, but the war has arrived at our doorstep anyway.