Omid Oshrat, 74, cautiously opens the door to her Sderot home. As I enter her house, Oshrat asks me in the typical Israeli fashion, if I would like something to eat or drink. Even after I respond no thank you, Oshrat brings me juice and cookies.

I’ve come to visit Omid because her neighborhood has become overwhelmed with newly constructed bomb shelters. Gray slabs of concrete jut out of the ground in the frontyards of residents’ homes. Since the beginning of the January 2009 ceasefire, Israeli Arab construction workers have been constructing shelters across city to provide protection for Sderot families against future rocket explosions.

Photo: Anav Silverman, Sderot Media Center
Caption: Omid Oshrat in her Sderot home.

Oshrat explains that two years ago she had a bomb shelter built for her house. The shelter is still incomplete, she says. She shows me how the window to the shelter does not close properly. “It’s difficult to breathe in here,” she says. “Right now, I use the shelter as a storage place until the rockets begin to strike again.”

Oshrat’s neighborhood, located in central Sderot, has been hit countless times by rockets. “A Qassam fell near the bank, another rocket exploded in the market place. It’s hard to keep track of the number of explosions,” she explains.

“I can never forget the days when 40 to 50 Qassam rockets would strike the city. I would sit at home at nights terrified and call my son to
come and get me. Many times I would spend the night in a motel outside the city in Givat Olga.”

Omid Oshrat, originally from Teheran, came to Israel with her husband when she was only 17.

“When we first came to Sderot in 1951, there was nothing here,” says Oshrat. “Just sandy hills. We barely had any food, and very little water. We were set up in these makeshift shacks which were full of rats and cockroaches. I was pregnant with a baby and we had nothing to provide for it. No diapers, no medicine, no tchai (Persian tea), just good neighbors in a middle of a desert.”

“We left Iran with much hope for our new life in Israel. It was very difficult growing up in Teheran,” Oshrat recalls in her Persian-accented Hebrew.

“Everyday on my way to school, Muslim children would taunt and yell at the Jewish kids. They hated us. Sometimes they would throw stones at my home. We we’re always treated as second-class citizens.”

“We wanted to get away from that and become pioneers” she says.

A year following the Oshrats’ aliyah to Israel, both Omid and her husband’s parents also left Iran and moved to live in Sderot.

“Economically, we were much more comfortable in Iran,” said Oshrat. “But we learned to live with little. Today my grandchildren have
everything that I couldn’t give my children during our early years in Israel.”

At age 74, Oshrat now lives alone. Her husband died a few years ago and a son was killed in a car accident exactly two years ago on Channukah.

The rest of Oshrat’s four children live in Sderot and her grandchildren come to visit her often.

Oshrat notes that both her personal situation and the past eight years of Gaza rocket attacks have taken a heavy toll on her physical health. “The
rockets are terrible for my heart and diabetes–my blood pressure and sugar levels sky rocket during times of rocket escalations. There is a lot of stress and tension during those times and even now I feel edgy during the ceasefire.”

Photo: Noam Bedein, Sderot Media Center
Caption: Sderot Resident stands in shock as she surveys the damage a Qassam rocket explosion has done to her home during Operation Cast Lead.

Although Omid has never gone back to Iran, she says she still speaks the Perisan language. “I speak Farsi with my children and they understand the language completely. She explains that her Perisan name Omid, means hope in Farsi. “It’s a strong and beautiful name,” she says, smiling.

“All I can do now is hope for better days,” says Oshrat. “I’ve had a difficult life. You could write a newspaper, not just an article, about my life’s stories.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here