Center for Judaic Studies (CJS) director and history associate professor David Shneer had plans to go to Israel this summer. Those plans, made before Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, didn’t change when bombs and missiles started flying over the border between Israel and Lebanon.
Shneer went to Israel in July to do research at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and to examine study-abroad sites at Ben Gurion University and the University of Haifa. Amid the meetings and research, Shneer felt obligated to share his observations. He did so in the form of “Direct for Jerusalem,” a blog on the CJS Web site.
“It occurred to me that this was a teaching opportunity,” Shneer says.
He says CJS wanted to do something, but rather than organizing rallies, they wanted to educate their audience.
He opened his first post with: “Where is the nearest bomb shelter?” Shneer was addressing the manager of the building where he stayed in Jerusalem.
Throughout the blog, Shneer depicted the lives of the people around him and his surprise at seeing them lead relatively normal lives. Ultimately, though, he reflected on the effects the war had on him and those around him.
“Everyone not in the line of fire is living double lives,” he wrote. “Seeming normalcy on the outside, while torn up inside about the fact that their loved ones are in harm’s way. And everyone has family and friends in harm’s way.”
Shneer himself has two cousins serving in the Israeli army.
In his final post on Aug. 11, Shneer recalled his last dinner in Israel where a friend, Yoav, received a text message from a friend in the Israeli army. Yoav’s friend asked that food be donated to the troops because the army had run out of supplies.
“I hope that people took away that this is an incredibly complicated situation and that human beings always strive to recreate normal life, no matter the circumstances,” he says.