Local News

Raleigh family copes with escalating violence in Israel

Posted July 18, 2014

— A Raleigh family taking classes and tours of Israel is adjusting to escalating violence in the country, doing their best not to live in fear.

Eric Solomon is on sabbatical from his post as head rabbi of Beth Meyer Synagogue in north Raleigh and has been taking courses at Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem for the past month. His wife, also a rabbi at Beth Meyer, arrived in Jerusalem a week ago with their three children and her parents for some of her own studies.

Amid their visit, Israel has been exchanging rocket fire with Palestinians in Gaza. Most rockets from Gaza target southern Israel, but several have reached Jerusalem in recent days.

"People have said to me, 'You know, rabbi, your apartment is good because you have northern exposure. The Gaza is to the south, so your apartment, your windows are not going to be ...' What kind of conversation is this? I have northern exposure," Solomon said during a Friday interview with WRAL News via Skype.

The Solomons have had to run for cover on three occasions, he said.

"To be cowering in a hallway, in a shelter with my children when the sirens are going off, there's a parental instinct – a great fear," he said.

Because Jerusalem is not under constant fire, the family is trying to live as normal a life as possible, he said, including trips to the Western Wall. Yet, there's a constant awareness of the nearest shelter.

"There really is a reason to be fearful right now," Solomon said. "It would be foolish to pretend this is not serious."

The family discussed leaving the country early, but they decided to stick to the original plan of heading home in early August.

"You have to think it through and ask those questions. We are doing that, particularly with the kids," he said.

The children, ages 11, 9 and 2, are asking lots of questions. which has led to serious conversations about war, shelters and hate.

"There are Palestinians in Gaza – children, women, the elderly who are being held hostage too, in a way, who do not have shelters to run to. They are caught in the crossfire, and some are being killed and hurt," Solomon said.

"It breaks my heart, and I think we all, as Jews, as Americans, as people of faith, have to remember that, just because someone is a Palestinian, it does not mean they support this. We have to remember Hamas is holding them as much hostage as us."

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