This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2008 at 11:39 am and is filed under All Posts, Family and Parenthood, Usability and Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Friday night was not an ordinary Sabbath evening in our haredi neighborhood of Jerusalem. At 2:30am I was wakened by a police car circling the streets, announcing: “Dear Residents: A 12-year old child is missing from his home. All who are able should come to help in the search.” The quiet zone that is Shabbos was broken.
Men in fur shtreimels, men in suits and ties, men in flannel pajamas and bathrobes, yeshiva students in sweatsuits, carrying flashlights, riding motorcycles, patrolling in cars. Helicopters circling low, flare explosions down in the valley, police hunching over a map big enough to serve
as a Shabbos tablecloth.
Hushed mid-street conferences under the yellow glow of the streetlights. Cars, motorcycles, ambulances, and police vans patrolling the silent streets. Tens of people working their way methodically from synagogue to synagogue. By 4.00am, hundreds of neighbors were quietly taking up the trail. Down the mountainside, out to the highway, peering into the ancient and crumbling structures in Lifta, carloads dispatched to an ever-increasing radius of Jerusalem neighborhoods, Ezrat Torah, Ganei Geula, Mea Shearim, Geula, Har Nof, Givat Shaul, Bayit Vegan, Ramot.
By daybreak, several hundred people had fanned out to search, building by building, from roof to basement, then to report back to the headquarters at the community center.
Serious faces, determined expressions, blistered feet, up and down hundreds and thousands of stairs. Jackets going on and off in the cold air and heat of exertion. Every hour, the announcement repeated: “A boy has been missing from his home since the afternoon. All who are able should come help in the search.”
…the exhaustion, and the swell of relief as the news spread that he was found.
Car-mounted amplified announcements are used frequently to advertise sales, prayer rallies and funerals in religious neighborhoods, where a vast majority of the population does not access mass media outlets. In the twelve years that we have lived in Israel, this was only the third time that an announcement was circulated on Shabbos: the first was when a toddler was kidnapped (she was found, thanks in part to the amplified bulletin), and the second was when a specific brand of baby formula was found to be causing serious neurological damage to babies (it was later discovered that the problem was a lack of B-vitamins, not a toxin).