Mid-morning. Maalah Adumim. Undulating sirens.

Anyone who has lived in Israel as long as I have knows what that means.

At 2 pm,   undulating sirens broke the holiday stillness of Saturday, Yom Kippur, 1973.

On this holy day, no radios were on.  The few who had TVs had them off too.

Until we saw men coming home from shul, then rushing  from their homes in uniforms, we had no idea we were at war.

Sirens marked the arrival of scuds in 1990 too.  Each time they wailed,  10 of us (including 6 Tel Aviv refugee-relatives) adjusted our gas masks, scooped up  our guinea pig, cat, and dog, then squeezed into a “safe room,” made safer still, since  we– as  instructed– blocked the crack under its door  with   a rag soaked in water-and-baking-soda.

How innocent I was. My only fear, should noxious chemicals  breach our   hideaway, was that our menagerie– who had not been issued gas masks– would expire right before my children’s eyes.

Today,   when the sirens sounded, I was browsing round  a local health food store. Everyone poured into the streets, confused.  Though  I  remained calm,  visions of  duct-taped windows and baking soda arose. Visions of madness and confusion.

No. No war.  It was, as we found  later,  a drill for the local school system–but why did they using undulating sirens?

Undulating means real.

Anyone who has lived in Israel as long as I have knows that.