Yom Kippur was, without a doubt, the quietest day this past year, one in which 1800 Qassam rockets were launched toward Sderot and the Western Negev since September 16 according to the IDF spokesman.

It was a day with no sirens, no Tzeva Adom; no ambulances and police cars screeching through the streets of Sderot to the site of an explosion.

The last time I can recall the streets being empty like this was Shavuot this past May, when the city was quiet and empty because 65% of the population had been evacuated when 293 rockets slammed into the Western region within a two week period.

Synagogues were empty, half were locked, and the Tzeva Adom (color red) siren went off every hour preceeding a nearby missile explosion.

On Yom-Kippur, the streets were empty as well, but the reason this time being that most of the residents were praying in the synagogues.

In Sderot, the passage in the prayer “Who will Live, and Who will Die” holds great and powerful meaning to the residents. Life is constantly in the balance here. Yom Kippur, the day on which creations and living souls are sentenced to either life or death, becomes a day of hope for the people here in Sderot, for the only option left for them in facing the new year is prayer.

In a time and place where every word, prayer and wish is meaningful and the gap between life and death is played out like Russian roulette, “May we be inscribed in the Book of Life.”

In the long hours of prayer, you manage to notice many faces of people who you’ve met during this year, in their destroyed homes, by Palestinian rockets. Try to imagine what’s going through their minds at this moment, when in that single moment their lives have changed during the 15 seconds when they ran for shelter.

Watching the blessing of the Priests, fathers covering their sons’ faces and blessing them, was another significant moment during the day. Fathers praying that their sons remain safe from the rocket attacks, that they find shelter whenever a missile strikes — these are prayers the fathers of Sderot have for their children.

Today I turned on the TV, and heard Iranian presiden Mahmoud Achmadinejad on the stand at the UN, at the Colombia University, the one who swears to destroy Israel, calling for genocide of a nation…Again, ‘his’ voice is being heard…

It is ironic that someone like Ahmadinejad can be heard all over, but that the voices of the people in Sderot remain silent to the world. Because of this silence and the fact that the situation here in Sderot barely reaches international headlines, Hamas and Fatah are effectively smuggling in more weapons — over 40 tons — since the ‘Hamastan’ took over the Gaza strip this past June, and 13,000 Hamas soldiers that were trained by Iran are prepared to break this ‘silence’ without any international outcry. This smuggling is devastating to people in the Southern part of Israel and over 100,000 citizens are under the threat of these rockets today.

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Noam Bedein is a director of the Sderot Media Center. It is a media advocacy center which portrays the human face of Sderot and southern Israel under siege, to the international media and public. Noam, a native of Tzfat, grew up in Efrat, Israel. After finishing the Beit El Yeshiva High School, Noam learned at a pre-Army training program in the Jordan Valley and then served for three years as an IDF sergeant for an artillery scout unit along the Lebanese border. After the army, Noam served as an emissary for The Jewish Agency in Boston, Massachusetts and then traveled for a year in the Far East. Upon his return to Israel, Noam relocated to Sderot and pioneered the “Sderot Media Center for the Western Negev Ltd", which has spawned the Sderot Media Center. In this position, Noam is a photojournalist, lecturer and gives briefings to foreign government officials, embassies, foreign press and student groups from around the world.


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