On Friday, for the first time in six weeks, we drove to Naharia for Friday night services.
We parked in the street and looking round saw the scars of the war; chunks gouged from walls and pockmarks sprayed across concrete from the ball bearings in the warheads, broken shutters, shattered windows and black singe marks where the explosions had caused a fire.
It seemed illicit to be outside, vaguely reprehensible to allow my children to wander so freely.
The community centre where we normally hold services had suffered blast damage: Windows had shattered showering glass all over the hall and damaging the air conditioners. Instead we held services in Wizo.
We arrived early and the room was already packed. Even those congregants who attend less regularly had responded to hurried phone calls that had occupied most of our morning as we tried to inform every one of the renewal of services and the change of venue.
For most of us this was the first time we had been together for more than a month and for many it was an affirmation of their return home. We greeted one another with hugs and smiles and a few tears.
As we joined together in celebration of the end of the war we sang songs of peace and friendship and prayed for the dead and bereaved, the injured and the kidnapped and most especially for those personally affected within our community.
This loss was most symbolically represented by the two youth members who assist the Rabbi in leading services. One of them had just returned from a host family because their home had been destroyed in an attack and the other young member had lost his aunt in the first attack on Naharia.
Suddenly the prayers for peace that we say routinely every Friday held a more personal significance.
When it came time for the Drash and the congregation notices the Chairman and the Rabbi thanked the members of the congregation who had helped keep people informed and in contact with one another.
Deepest thanks was for our community coordinator who spent so much time and effort organising for people to leave the North and find host families. In his ‘free-time’ he gave many interviews to the Spanish-speaking media explaining Israel’s side of the conflict and showing them what was really happening in the North.As the service drew to a close we all joined hands and sang the Tikva.