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    Posted June 30, 2014 by
    Western Negev, Eshkol Region, Israel
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    First Person: Your essays

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    From Bomb Blast to Wedding Bells


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Adele Raemer, an American by birth, has lived on Israel's border with Gaza since 1975. She became concerned with the security of her daughter's wedding after tensions increased between Israel and Gaza when three teens were killed. A version of her essay appeared on CNN.com.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    I have written here before, about our lives on the border of the Gaza Strip, in the Western Negev desert of Israel – always in tumultuous times of running for shelters and explosions too close for comfort. But never has it been this sensitive, this close, this personally painful.


    She has been dreaming about this day for as long as I can remember. Ever since she was small, she has fantasized about her wedding day. It took her a while. At the age of 32 years old, she has finally found the man with whom she wants to spend her life. The fact is that he was born and raised right here on the same kibbutz as she was and that they have known each other since they were born, but since they are two years apart, they never really paid much attention to each other as they were growing up. All this makes it all the more special.


    Another truth: Of all my children, Lilach was the only one terrified of living here on the border with Gaza. She has suffered more than the others from nightmares, and fears, refusing to walk around after dark on her own. This is despite the fact that there is zero crime rate in this community where everyone knows everyone else. She, of all the children, is the one child I never would have dreamt would be settling on Kibbutz Nirim, to raise a family. Any of my other children? Maybe. But certainly NOT Lilach! She was just too deeply post-traumatic: always certain that terrorists would infiltrate the kibbutz, and pop up right under her window. (That particular fear has become all the more real ever since the Hamas attack tunnels from Gaza were discovered not far from where we live.)


    For years she searched, trying to find life elsewhere: in the States for a while, in the center of the country – anywhere but on the border with the Gaza Strip. Until she came back, and fell in love with a man who wants to live no place else, but here.


    The planning of the wedding, which has been going on for months, was an event she has been working up to- on one level or another - for most of her life. The decision to marry here, on our kibbutz, by the pool, made my heart soar. They have been working on their plans painstakingly, doing much of the work on their own. They scrimped and saved, had friends pitch in to decorate jars with lace, paint the wall at the amphitheater at the pool, all in order to prepare a simple, low-keyed, beautiful wedding, on their own terms, on their own turf. The place where they both were born; the place where they want to settle down and raise a brood of their own.


    Now, think about your own lives. What is the worst thing that could happen to wedding plans? The caterer could suddenly go bankrupt? The weather could turn bad for an outside event? But can you imagine having to worry that a rocket could blow up during the reception? Or the prospect that a “red-alert” rocket-warning siren might go off in the middle of the vows, sending family and friends scrambling in a panic for cover, because this close to the border we have no more than 15 seconds to make it to a shelter before the mortar explodes? This is our reality.


    The wedding is set for the end of this week. Invitations have gone out and been RSVP’d. The caterer is set and the dress has been bought. Tables and chairs have been ordered and their ceremony has been planned to the letter, with their friends and loved ones playing the leading roles. In short: everything is in place, all systems “go”. Only thing is: we literally have to GO. We must move the venue, because there is no way we can risk endangering the lives of our guests. The current situation has escalated at a terrifying rate in the past few days.


    Instead of the wedding of her dreams, we find ourselves confronted with a nightmare of having to find a secure location, and the additional significant expenses involved in moving the celebration to a safer environment. By this Friday.


    This is life on the border with the Gaza Strip. Peaceful and welcoming most of the time; but occasionally, a battlefield with sirens and explosions. Bombs instead of wedding bells. Life on the border, June 2014.


    P.S.: I would like to thank the many people (family and friends, as well as strangers) who spent an intensive day on phones - trying to find an appropriate place that was willing to take us on at such short notice. A good friend who works with the Kibbutz movement put out the word, and literally tens of kibbutzim contacted her to offer their gardens and pools. In the end, we are holding it at a Stoa Hall in Kibbutz Gaash, who were accommodating and generous.

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