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August 22, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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August 22, 2014

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 22, 2014 Rockets where theywere staying."We calmly distracted," said Sim- ran to a nearby bomb shelter one. "My son initially got a From page 1A inthehotelandithadabunch text from Elana that a bomb of kid games to keep all of the hit nearby. The night before to Israel, wasn't so calm. children calm." thingsseemedcalmandElana "I tried to keep very busy The group was supposedwas already talking about and distracted with work, to go to Tel Aviv, but because studyingabroadin Israelnext activities and personal life," so many rockets were hitting summer. The next night we she said. "In the beginning, near there they went to Eilat were on a skype and it was when the rocket war started, instead, where it was thought a different scenario hearing my family and others, having they'd be far from the rockets, the other kids were hysterical been to Israel, tried to allevi- Arrivingabout8p.m.,many while talking to Eiana at 4 in ate my fears by telling me it inthegroupvisitedabarnear the morning her time. I was is safe, with great security. I thehotei.Theywalkedbackto hysterical, crying, but trying was not relaxed but learned their hotel around midnight, to stay composed at the same to live with it." About an hour later, a siren time with her." Through the Mayanot pro- wailed out. Elana was in one Simone went on to say gram, Simone and David re- of the hotel rooms visiting that her mother, a former ceived regular e-mail updates with some of the group, participant in the high school about the group and Elana "We immediately ran out inIsraelprogramasateacher, maintained contact with her of the hotel room to the had at first reassured her that parents by instant messaging staircases for safety. As we Elanawould be safe, but after them on Facebook. were running, we hearda loud the rocket hit so close in Eilat, "I knew there was a seven boom and we knew instantly she was distressed too. hour time difference, so if that the rocket had hft really However, Elana stayed I was on the computer at 1 close to our hotel." calm and was a comfort to "a.m., it was 8 a.m. in Israel, a In fact, the rocket hit a the others, later earning her good time to hear back from hotel just two blocks away the "Calm Award" at the end Elana," Simone said. fromwheretheywerestaying, of the trip. Elana heard her first siren "After the rocket hit too Backhere, Simonewas con- warning in Jerusalem while close to her hotel in Eilat, .stantly on pins and needles. thegroupwashavingapicnic which was supposed to be After the rocket hit from an justoutsidethe five-starhotel a safe area, I was no longer unexpected place, the Birth- Congregation of Reform Judaism is looking for a full charge bookkeeper. 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"I honestly felt very pro- tected while I was in Israel and completely trusted the IDF and the Iron Dome. To me, Israel felt just as safe as the United States," she said. Seven IDF soldiers accom- panied the group for five days of the trip. "They stayed in our hotel rooms and interacted with us during all the daily activities," Elana said. "They were silly, normal, friendly 20-year-olds. We even went shopping at the mall with them. They did not fit the tough soldier stereotype at all!" "In spite of having to go into bomb shelters during the trip, Elana really had a fun, tremendous, and mostly life-altering experience in a positive sense," her morn said. "Not only did Elana come back feeling a str6nger Jewish identity because the Jewish experiences there were very different than in the United States, but she met many wonderful people and she really enjoyed the activities. Mostly, she enjoyed the physi- cally active focus of the trip in hiking through beautiful scenery, doing activities never before like riding camels, and the religiously moving mo- ments when she got emotional touching the Wailing Wall," Simone said. What was her favorite place in Israel? "My favorite place was Jerusalem because the view from our hotel of the city was breathtaking. Also, the historic significance of the city was amazing and the Western Wall was an unforget- table experience," she said. The 10-day trip to Israel changed Elana's life and she will always be an advocate and "protector" of her homeland. "I definitely feel more con- nected to my Jewish roots because I actually experienced the historic sites I learned about in Hebrew school in= stead of just reading about them like before. I am more motivated to get involvedwith the Jewish life on my college campus." Her brother, Sam, 16, wants to go to Israel through the Birthright program some day after high school or in between college. "I hope our timing will be better," Simone said can- didly. "We want to send him to Israel when there is not the risk of a war like the situation was for Elana." And what about Simone going to Israel one day? "Someday, I hope to getup the nerve and go to Israel in better times. My daughter's trip has influenced me to want to go to Israel when it is safer. When I was Elana's age, I did not have a desire to travel to Israel. It was Elana who initiated the trip with her desire to go, the time to go before starting college at UF in Gainesville, and she planned and signed up for the trip all on her own. "I feel like I travelled to Israel on the Internet while Elanawas there. The Mayanot program sent regular updates and lots of group pictureswith breathtaking scenery. Elana's new friends from the program were posting lots of pictures on Facebook. I got a real sense of the beauty, emotional, and religious love of Israel through the many pictures I enjoyed. Like I was told by relatives and my mother who have visited Israel, and my communica- tions with Israel, I could feel the protective sense of the Is- raeli people over their Ameri- can visitors and own citizens. Through my daughter Elana's experiences, it heightened my interest to travel to Israel one day and see the beauty for myself. My daughter came back encouraging me to go to Israel." Cost From page 2A technology isn't limited to the home front. Israeli planes have bombed Gaza approxi- mately 4,900 times during the war--roughly 150 times a day. Yiftah Shapir, head of the Military Balance Projectat Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, said most of the bombs Israeli planes dropped were likely equippedwith computers and cameras to increase accuracy. Shapir doesn't know how many bombs Israel used and the IDF won't say, but he said most Israeli ordnance was likely one of two missiles: the Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, a GPS-guided mis- sile made by Boeing, and the Tammuz missile, an Israeli- made munition that locates its target with a camera and has a 15-mile range. According to Shapir, not including the bombs, each of the Air Force's 4,900 sorties cost $15,000, for a total of over $73 million. Add on a $32,000 JDAM or a $140,000 Tammuz and the price skyrockets. Crit- ics of Israel have accused .the 36257 51439 98741 45826 73614 12978 84395 67582 29163 IDF of using imprecise--and far less expensive--artillery in strikes that have killed more than 1,000 civilians in Gaza. Calling up the reserves One of the unifying factors of this war was that almost every Israeli knew a few people in uniform. Israel has called up 82,000 reservists during the conflict--nearly half at the war's start and 42,000 more as it went on. It's hard to determine the exact cost of reserves because each soldier receives a re- imbursement for lost salary pegged to his monthly pay- check. But according to the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot, each reservist costs the army $174 a day--including food, shelter, a uniform and weap- ons. If the figure is accurate, the IDF spent nearly $200 mil- lion on reservists, not includ- ing the salary reimbursement. Direct hits to the home front Alongwith Israel's 65 fallen soldiers and three killed civil- ians 674 Israelis have been wounded in Protective Edge, 23 of them civilians. A Health Ministry spokesman estimat- 8914 2768 6253 9371 5892 3645 7126 1439 4587 ed that treating the injured would cost $4.4 million. In addition, the govern- ment already has received 2,500 claims for property damage from the missiles and estimates a total payout of $14.6 million. Compensation for lost wages and property damage will come from a $1.5 billion fund taken from taxes on real estate transactions. The economic costs Israel also will compen- sate workers from the south who couldn't do their jobs because of the rockets. The Manufacturers Association of Israel estimates that one in five workers in the south stayed home because of the war, but it couldn't estimate the total amount of lost wages. Israel's biggest civilian cost by far will be the $1.3 billion in lost gross domestic product, an estimate provided to JTA by Moshe Asher, the director gen- eral of Israel's Tax Authority. Asher said the war affected industries across Israel, but one of the hardest hit was the tourism business. Of the 600,000 tourists expected to come on organized tours from July through the end of 2014, the Israel Incoming Tour OperatorsAssociation expects only 300,000 to make it. Overall, the tour operators group estimates that organized tours will lose $350 million from July through December, similar to the $375 million loss estimated by the Israel Hotel Association. But the cancella- tions may have been toughest on private tour guides, who depend on summer tours to make it through the year. "These months are the months where I make money," said Gil Shemesh, 28, who lost a quarter of his summer income when a bar mitzvah trip and a Christian pilgrims' tour canceled. "It took out a whole month. I won't be work- ing at all in August."