Asira shamalia, June 27, 2022
Language, words, cannot always do justice to situations and events.
Apparently there are not enough lofty words to describe to people who were not there what went on at the Tel Baruch Beach this morning.
I joined a group of good people who volunteered to do good things for others.
This is the fourteenth year of the Beach Days project, headed by an impressive group of women who made it their business to do good.
Today’s context was doing something good with 60 Palestinian women and their children from the village of ‘Asira Shamaliya, who had never been to the beach. The success of this day was made possible by recruiting more or less all the universe’s forces… This is the first group arriving here since the Covid 19 pandemic rocked our lives.
The leading team is well-versed in receiving such groups, including all the required procedures which are meant to protect us but are at times not at all easy to handle.
At 8 a.m. a busload of excited women and children reached the checkpoint. An Israeli bus waited for them on the other – Israeli – side, and at the beach food, water, inflated life-saving tubes and a group of thrilled volunteers were waiting for them to arrive. But this is the rub – the women and children almost didn’t make it today. It appears that mishaps happen, procedures must be respected, and without a group of army officers and soldiers whose heart was rent at the sight of the waiting group, the group would not have arrived. Thanks to goodwill, efforts and some flexibility, the group did make it, late but still…
The feeling of standing and waiting for them to disembark one after another with the broadest smile, with greetings and an excited handshake – for me felt as though I were attending my own children’s wedding at least.
At top speed life-saving tubes were grabbed from the pile waiting for them, and we all went down to the water. First time at the beach – can you imagine? Shrieks of joy mixed with fear, fearful children tightly holding the mothers’ and volunteers’ hands. Slowly fear made way to joy and happy giggles filled the beach. Israeli children playing in the water with Palestinian children – playing knows no borders. Israeli volunteers floating happy children and blissful mothers, everyone forgets everything and surrenders to the waves.
If other activities were not planned for the day, they could all have remained in the water until dark. So they got out of the water, showered and dressed (it takes time, a lot of time…) and embarked on the bus for lunch at a Jaffa restaurant and boat ride at the Jaffa port.
Written by: Nirit ben Ari , a vollunteer