15 Seconds to Safety

The Bomb Shelter Museum, created by Artists 4 Israel, was in Baltimore for one week at the Greenspring Shopping Center. (Photos Marc Shapiro)

The Bomb Shelter Museum, created by Artists 4 Israel, was in Baltimore for one week at the Greenspring Shopping Center. (Photos Marc Shapiro)

The sound of children singing can be heard when walking into the dark 10-by-8-by-10 room. Their voices are quickly drowned out by sirens and chaos, as translations show that their song is about hiding from rockets in a bomb shelter.

“Hurry, hurry, hurry to a safe area. My heart is beating boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” the children on the video sing in Hebrew.

The short video was being played on a loop inside the Bomb Shelter Museum, which was stationed on the sidewalk of the Greenspring Shopping Center from July 30 through August 4.

“It’s difficult for me to watch, especially watching the children,” Bernie Kozlovsky said of the video. “You only have 15 seconds to actually seek shelter.”

The one-room museum, which has trash and other items on the floor much like a shelter in Israel would, was created by Artists 4 Israel, and Baltimore Zionist District (BZD) paid to have it in town for the week. According to Israeli estimates, more than 3,000 rockets have been fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip since the beginning of the month-long Operation Protective Edge, which entered a new phase Tuesday with the adoption of a 72-hour cease-fire.

“The most important thing is to educate people,” said Berly

Hershkovitz, a BZD board member. “If it weren’t for the Iron Dome [anti-missile defense system] and these shelters, people would be dying.”

The museum was originally built to showcase the situation in Sderot, a city in the Negev that sits one mile from Gaza, which has been subject to rocket attacks since the early 2000s. When Operation Protective Edge started, it took on a larger symbolic role.

080814_bzd-bombshelter2BZD officials said more than 300 people visited the museum on the first day, and the following day it saw constant traffic from Jews and non-Jews alike.

“It reinforces their awareness to support Israel,” BZD president Leora Pushett said. “Some people have been very emotionally moved.”

Shoshana Zaslow said that while the video was horrifying and sad, it’s an essential reminder of the situation in Israel.

“I’d rather be aware of what’s going on,” she said. “We live our life, we’re doing whatever we want [in the U.S.], so to stop and think for a minute
is nice.”

For Donald Berman, the museum hit home because it was tangible.

“I think it’s a great idea to help people understand what people in Israel are going through,” he said. “Everything’s a little abstract, so this helps bring it down to reality.”

To keep up with the realities, Zaslow and Kozlovsky both have apps on their smartphones that send red alerts in real time, including locations, when a rocket is heading for Israel.

“I reminds me of what’s going on there,” Kozlovsky said. “I have relatives, I have friends.”

BZD is getting calls from other cities interested is having the museum, which was previously in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

“We, as Jews living in America … we feel empty not being able to do anything,” he said. “It makes us feel like we’re doing something for our brothers and sisters in Israel.”


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