Our twins in Israel tell their story
Our twin daughters Sivan and Shani were born in Israel in the month of Sivan, June in the Gregorian calendar, in 1990. Sivan arrived first and then her sister Shani, the shneeyah (the second) arrived a mere two minutes after, to accompany her identical sister into this world.
In January 1991, the Gulf War erupted and the 7 month old twins were hurled many times into their ‘plastic tents’ located in their older brother Oz’s room. Yossi and I always, on command, ready to seal the room, as sirens sounded to protect ourselves from suspected chemical warfare. I always said that when the girls would get older I would tell them the tales of their time spent in their brother’s sealed room!
As a family, Yossi and I decided to move to Vancouver where we were seeking inclusive educational practices for our son Oz who was born in Israel with physical challenges due to Cerebral Palsy. When Sivan and Shani turned 12, in the summer of 2002, we flew to Israel despite popular opinion against going.
We had a mission to organize with our Israeli families and friends, two bat mitzvah celebrations. At that time during the second Intifada, all events were required to have extra security guards outside. As we were guarded outside, we rejoiced and celebrated inside the multiple coming of age ceremonies for Sivan and Shani. The girls were now ushered into a status to accept responsibility for their actions and deeds.
Eleven years later in the months of September 2013 and January 2014, Shani this time lead the way while Sivan followed suit, to make Aliyah to a country dear to their family’s hearts. Their new acquired status “Kteena Chozeret”, a young one returning, sounded somewhat archaic but truthful. The young ones returning at the ages of 23 were taking on yet again responsibilities in becoming new citizens of Israel. (Something by the way, I did at the age of 23 in 1982).
As young citizens of Israel, Sivan and Shani are now experiencing a war – The Operation Protective Edge.
An operation that began July 7th , 2014 in defense to an onslaught of rockets firing into all areas of Israel. Fleeing sirens in between their working days, sunbathing, traveling on buses, visiting friends and family has become a bipolar reality for the ‘Kteenot Chozrot’.
Along with all citizens of Israel, they find the closest bomb shelters or staircases, and pray that the Iron Dome will do its’ job.
For all of us today linked to Israel in many different ways, we find ourselves embroiled between all kinds of statements of rights and wrongs stoked on a heated continuum. Sivan and Shani are also involved in this complexity of living in the heat of matters, and this time a little older. Sivan’s recent SMS sent to me reads: “Israel, a place with so much heart and so much chaos. It is a place where passion runs high and leaves my heart beating.” Shani writes: “Israel is a place with the warmest culture in the harshest context.”
Our daughters, young adult women, citizens of Israel, are maintaining normalcy with an ever present subliminal fear. It is their love for their Jewish roots that keeps them bonded to Israel. Let us all be strengthened as the IDF combats a lethal threat that Hamas poses not just to Israel’s citizens, but to the world stage.