Tag Archives: Israel Baseball

From Terror to Complacency in Five Short Days

Smoke from a downed missle

Smoke from the downed missile

Some more thoughts from our war zone…

It amazes me how Israelis, especially the youngest ones, adapt so quickly to situations and normalize them so fast. Once again, while we were on the baseball field somewhere in central Israel, at 16:30 today the sirens went off. Because we are in an open area, the sound of the siren isn’t very loud. I heard it and immediately ordered the kids near me (10-11-year-olds) to move into the safe rooms near the field. None of them looked very concerned. One quickly said: “But it sounds so far away. Why do we have to go?” My response was short and to the point (to say the least), and they all got up and hustled over the bases, past the dug outs, into the safe room.

Some claimed to have heard the booms, signifying that a missile  has been intercepted by the Iron Dome (may it be blessed). Just a couple of minutes into being the the safe room, the kiddies were restless and ready to leave. These situations create a short learning curve – within hours of the first missiles being fired last week, we understood that the danger comes in the minutes after the Iron Dome intercepts the missile, because that’s when the hot metal fragments come plummeting down to earth. So once again I had to exert my motherly authority and use my “strict” voice to keep them from scuttling back to the field prematurely. The players from the older team (14-15-year-olds) rolled their eyes at me. But I stood firm.

Glad I did. When we emerged, I noticed that not too far away, there was a significant display of billowing white smoke. Then the emergency services sirens started blaring from all directions. A brother of one of the players showed up with news – a missile had in fact been shot down and its fiery remains lay smoldering in a field not too far from us.

On the way home, with my 15-year-old son and two of his team mates in the car, I got a little jumpy when I heard a song that had siren-like sounds in the background. I quickly turned off the radio to check if the sound was coming from outside the car. And more eye rolling – this time from my son. “Mom, you’re being paranoid,” he said in his droll teenage monotone, without lifting his eyes from the What’s App screen on his phone. I confess that I am a little envious of this state of youthful complacency in the face of all this terror we are enduring. Oh to be 15 again!

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From Quiet Canada to Israel Under Fire

Filling a secure room with sweaty baseball players

Filling a secure room with sweaty baseball players

When the first missiles were fired into central Israel on Tuesday, my family and I were coming to the end of a short trip to Toronto for a family wedding. News from home, which first came in via What’s App messages to my daughter telling her that in our small town there had been an unprecedented air raid, was gut wrenching. We had just short of 24 hours to digest the awful news that no area of the country was immune to the rockets being launched from Gaza. The thought of flying into Israel, particularly into a Tel Aviv that was being targeted rather effectively for the first time, made me more than a little nervous. An online message from a friend slightly eased my fears – “You know the news is always darker from far”.

So true. In fact, the closer I got, ironically the less I feared what we were returning to. At the El Al check in counter at Toronto airport, I asked the attendant if there were a lot of cancellations. Her answer, in a heavy Russian accent: “No-one has cancelled. Very brave people.” That already made me feel better. Then I spotted a family of 6 who were clearly making aliyah, given away by a massive pile of baggage, punctuated by a large Mac computer box (no-one goes on vacation with such a piece of hardware). All I could think was this is the best and the worst time to make aliyah – the worst, well that’s obvious… missiles aren’t the greatest first impression; the best…things can only get better.

The mood on the plane did little to bring me down again. One tourist, about to spend three weeks in Israel, smiled broadly when he told a fellow passenger that the situation didn’t deter him because he likes a little action in his life. All around me, Canadian tourists were looking forward to spending time in Israel, undeterred by the less than sympathetic welcome they were surely going to get in Tel Aviv. Canadians, ey?

We landed, and Ben Gurion Airport was decorated with signs pointing the way to the air raid shelters. This was the only clue that something was amiss. Everything else was plain old normal – just the way we like to keep things as best as we can when the going gets tough. The nasty traffic on the way home was caused by our “normal” traffic accidents – five of them in total. And while the news stream was confirming many of my fears, and detailing the truly horrendous situations facing almost all residents of the South, life all around was going ahead as usual.

This morning, when the sirens went off while my son’s baseball team (that I manage) was in the middle of a pre-tournament practice game, we all quickly obeyed Homeland Security instructions and trooped off the field into the shelters. The experience of being in a small stuffy room with a team of very sweaty baseball players was far more unpalatable than the thought of missiles (no offense guys). We waited for the required 10 minutes, by which I mean an abbreviated 2 minutes, and returned to the field under the clear blue summer sky. The only hint of chaos was three tiny white puffy clouds in the distance – the last vestiges of the three missiles that had been intercepted by the Iron Dome minutes before.

One player commented that this was probably the first baseball inning ever to be ended by a missile attack. But I’m sure there were other moments in history that involved baseball and missiles. Either way, this was one moment that made me realize that hearing about an air raid from across the ocean is far more terrifying than being in one. In the midst of the chaos, I felt so much calmer. It really is less dark here than there. Still, I’ll be very happy when it’s all over and the only booms we hear at baseball are the sound of the ball cracking on the bat.

 

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Team Mom: A Really Comfortable Hat

I’ve worn many baseball hats over the past few years – IAB Secretary General, IAB board member, town coordinator, coach, umpire – but none has given me more pleasure than the most recent – Under 16 Israel National Team Mom.

Team Israel

Team Israel

We landed from our trip to the PONY Tournament in Prague at 4:00 this morning, with the silver medal trophy in tow.  After getting a little sleep, it’s now time to share the 13 reasons that this hat was a particularly comfortable one, and here they are (in alphabetical order): Adam, Assaf, David, Ely, Ethan, Hadar, Jacob, Michael, Noam, Omri, Yoav H., Yoav M. and Yotam.

These are the 13 members of the U16 Israel National team that I’m bursting with pride to be associated with. Not only are they incredible ball players with guts and determination, they’re also respectful, considerate, and courteous. I often had to remind myself that they are only 15 and 16-years-old because they’re mature beyond their years. They’ve all clearly been raised well by great parents. On the baseball field, they are committed, determined and exceptionally talented. They’ve been coached to be the best players they can be, not accept failure, push through disappointment, practice until they can’t stand any more. But their coaching doesn’t end there: They’re also coached to be the outstanding people they are; to take responsibility for themselves and their team; and to behave the way representatives of the State of Israel should when they are serving as ambassadors of our country. Bravo parents; bravo coaches!!

Being team mom isn’t a bed of roses: It involves running around from Czech supermarket to supermarket, with no local language, trying to find essentials for the team (e.g., a pot – it was Pesach); it includes being mooned by team members on a Prague highway and having no recourse whatsoever (!); it involves hearing the very gory details (including photographic evidence) of pranks the guys play on each other after the games (TMI!); it involves constantly having to nag kids to take food to the field, so they won’t starve because it’s Pesach; it involves being photo-bombed by a large group of players, while taking a post-game picture with my son; and more.

But here’s where it’s all so very worthwhile:

When the players do something great on the field and come over and make sure I saw it. (I never miss a second.)

When a player sends me a note in the middle of the tournament saying that “everything has been great and a lot has to do with you,”… instant lump in throat!

When a player says: “We need to count how many times Margo says ‘No thanks, it’s OK’.” (The boys offer to help me with so much so often that I really constantly had to say it.)

When, during an exchange of 16-year-old off-color banter, a player says to my son: “I would start cursing your mother now if she wasn’t so awesome.”…Ego explosion!

When dinners with some of the boys at Chabad, instead of being eat-and-run affairs, turn into long and interesting chats about everything and anything, and I have to remind myself again that these smart, mature kids are 15!

When every car trip ends with “thank you”s, and every effort I make is acknowledged and appreciated.

When a player, after asking a particularly stupid question in the car, reminds me how much I like him and as such, please not to put the incident forward for Kangaroo Court.

When my own son gracefully deals with the fact that Team Mom is his real mother, and doesn’t cringe at the fact.

And mainly, when they all go out there, play like superstars wearing Team Israel jerseys, support each other from the dug-out loudly and proudly; and do it all with poise and respect for the game, their opponents, their coaches and each other.

To my 13 baseball “sons”, besides your real parents, I am your biggest fan. You warm my heart. I so look forward to seeing you all take your next steps both on and off the baseball field, and to the successes you will surely achieve. To each and every one of you, thanks for being so awesome and keep it up.

See you at practice!

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