Sderot

For decades, those of Israeli descent living in America kept our suitcases packed. Despite U.S. passports, English-speaking families, and American homes and businesses, we always thought that we would return to Israel one day.
If Sderot is known as the Bomb Shelter Capital of the World (previous blog) Netivot, eight miles further south along the fraught border with Gaza, has been called the Varanasi of Israel, likened to Hinduism's holiest city because of its links to Jewish mysticism and miracles.
This photo documentary on the Israeli border town of Sderot is not intended to get into the political argument between Israel and Palestine over who is right and who is wrong but merely to take a walk through a town that has earned the title of Bomb Shelter Capital of the World for its ubiquitous reinforced shelters against the hailstorm of rockets and mortars from Gaza.
On Monday, September 1, schools across Israel opened for the new the school year, as 2,105,394 children took their places in the classroom -- merely a week after a 50-day war with Hamas ended in a cease-fire agreement.
On the day after the FAA implemented its flight ban to Israel, it was business as usual at Isaac B Salon on Second Avenue, near the United Nations in New York.
"It's that place where all the rockets are falling," I would tell my friends about the embattled southern Israeli town near Gaza.
For six-and-half-year-old Dvir in southern Israel, the rockets spawn one main terror. According to his mom, Dvir recently told her that he fears he will never grow old.
Southern Israel has been dealing with a rain of rockets recently, as days and nights have been punctuated by a growing number of sirens and rocket explosions.
This month, Sderot, a city less than a mile away from Gaza, which has for the last decade been under an intermittent barrage of rocket attacks, hosted the annual Cinema South Festival.
A menorah made of Qassam rockets fired at Sderot is about to be lit as the rain stops. The rocket menorah has come to symbolize the city's own Hanukkah miracle -- one where the resilience and faith of a community can overcome difficult times.