In January 2007, I was on a 10-day service trip to northern Israel. There were two main service projects my group was working on.
The first project was in the forests. It was initially planned that we would plant trees in the forests that had burned following the rocket attacks by Hezbollah in 2006, but it turned out that the more needed task was cutting the lower branches of the trees, so that is what we did. The rationale was that when (not “if”, but “when”) there would be another attack, there would be less risk of massive, devastating forest fire.
The second task was painting murals in the bomb shelters. We were supposed to paint something colorful, pretty, uplifting, distracting.
I recall someone in our group found a discarded used condom in the bomb shelter they were assigned to paint. Which is disgusting. But also kind of made sense, in a way. People lived here during the attacks.
We did not have much artistic talent. I mean, a few people in the group did. I was not one of them. I am capable of getting color on a paintbrush and slapping it on a grey concrete wall, but that’s the extent of my artistic talents.
The local coordinator of the project was pleased with our murals. She said:
“Your paintings are so beautiful…and I hope no one ever has to see them.”
Reading the news about the rocket attacks in Israel right now, I find myself wondering if someone is looking at one of our colorful bomb shelter paintings.
Thinking of family and friends in Israel.