On December 15, a busload of ESRA members had the privilege of touring Sderot with Mike and Adele Rubin, former residents of Herzliya. Adele, a former chairperson of ESRA and one of its founders, moved to Sderot almost three years ago. Mike was an outstanding guide, showing us the highlights of the city and explaining the origins of the original settlers.
We saw Gaza from only a few kilometers away, on a hill overlooking the water reservoir which supplies the area. We travelled the streets and admired the roundabouts with their unique sculptures. The city is filled with public gardens, many containing exercise equipment for adults and children.
The most outstanding site is the huge indoor play center built by the UJF in the center of the city. Children of all ages use this center. It is completely covered, with a safe roof protecting the building against all rockets. It contains play areas for every age, birthday rooms, a soccer field, a climbing wall, a television area, computer study rooms, parents’ quarters where they can relax and enjoy each other's company, and even a kiosk counter. The inside vibrates with colored surfaces, creating a relaxed and positive atmosphere.
We were shown a two-minute film of an ongoing rocket attack. That said it all. You cannot forget the terror in the eyes of the children, 70% of whom still suffer from the results of rockets. Today, each home has been provided with a safe shelter, each bus stop serves as a shelter as well and all the schools have protective roofs. The situation is much safer.
Adele took us shopping at the famous Sderot Bakery where our members found bargains in the shuk, and we were all impressed and delighted with what Mike had to show us.
Each trip with ESRA is special - this one began with a morning at Yad Mordechai as well. But for many of us this was the first opportunity to see Sderot, its surroundings, Sapir College and all the attractions we didn't know existed there.
I advise you all to go and see for yourselves.
We thank the Rubins for introducing us to their new home, and wish them many years of quiet happiness there.