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Ronni Kives in Kfar Saba


by Rhonda J. Prepes and Rhonda Spivak, November 21, 2012

[Editor’s note: The following article is an interview with Ronni Kives, a former Winnipegger now living in Israel, about her experiences in the latest war with Hamas, and her reflections on life in Israel.

Kives, who born in Winnipeg, graduated from Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate in 1981 and got her B.A. Honors in Theatre Studies from York University in 1985. She now lives in Kfar Saba, Israel, where she is a Marketing writer at an internet advertising company in Tel Aviv. Kives remembers that she and I were in journalism class together with the late Sheldon Oberman and she still uses “his editing tips that he taught us in Grade 11!”]

The Winnipeg Jewish Review contacted Ronni Kives to see how she was handling this latest war between Israel and Gaza, with Hamas rockets reaching as far as Tel-Aviv.

Kives replied that “I am not so much into politics but, maybe I can provide some humouristic relief.”
For example, Kives said she and her friends “were wondering why we can’t order different ring tones for the siren that Israel uses to notify citizens of an incoming rocket attack?”

“A grad rocket could be the theme from Rocky, a kassam rocket could be the theme from Chariots of Fire and a fajar (the long range rockets that reached Tel Aviv, Rishon and Jerusalem this time from Gaza) could be Adele’s song that is the theme song to the latest James Bond movie,” Kives said.

Kives related that the first time she experienced spending time in a bomb shelter was in 1978/1979 when she spent the year living on Kibbutz Kfar Blum near the border with Lebanon.

“I have been in bomb shelters, without sirens, in 1978 and in 1981 in Kibbutz Kfar Blum, near Kiryat Shmonah, which suffered from kayushot attacks from former P.L.O. (Nobel peace prize winner, lol) leader Arafat and later, from Hezbollah,” Kives said.

Before making aliyah, “I spent another year in Israel between 1985 and 1986, living in Ashkelon (when it was a really safe place) where I did community theatre work and in Jerusalem. I returned to Toronto for another year and made aliyah in 1987 to Ramat Gan.”

Kives said that the next time she experienced sirens was from scud missiles from Iraq that fell on Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv in 1991 during the Gulf War.

“I met my ex-husband during the Gulf War when I was working at the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv.”

Kives noted that the Australian Embassy used to be located on Shaul Hamelech Street in Tel-Aviv, “just down the street from the [bus bombing] terrorist attack” that occurred Wednesday November 21, 2012, the morning before the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was announced.

When this most recent bus bombing occurred Wednesday morning, “I was already at work after riding a different bus earlier to work,” Kives said.

When asked if she has a secure room in her apartment and at work, Kives replied, “We have a ‘mamad’, a secure room at work. My son is in grade 12 at Hakfar Hayarok. He ran into the hall because any shelters or safe rooms at school are too far to get to. We have a shelter in our apartment building but, I live on the 9th floor and in the event of a siren, we cannot get down to the basement, so [Israeli] homefront command instructions are to go into the stair well and descend two or three floors.”

“We live in Kfar Saba, out of missile range, but past experience has given us many terrorist attacks to the city, killing people at shopping centers, train stations, cafes and schools. A girlfriend of mine (originally from the U.S.) moved into her apartment in Ramat Gan six days before a scud destroyed half her apartment. She, a male friend and a dog were in her apartment at the time of the attack but, all survived. At the time, there was also a lot of looting, which was scarier than the scud, in some ways,” Kives added.

Kives said she has been impacted by terror attacks in other ways.

“A friend I know lost his mother in the terrorist attack on bus number 5 on Dizengoff Street. A lot more people have been injured in car accidents, though. One of my friends was injured in a car accident and currently lives in Ashdod. A 5 cm. piece of a missile landed in his balcony.”

“I have been living in Kfar Saba since 1996 and thankfully no rockets have landed in my neighborhood. In Ramat Gan, I had scud misslies land in my neighborhood, down the street. But I was staying at friends in another city at the time.”

When asked if she was able to concentrate at work during the recent violence, Kives replied that she wasn’t able to concentrate during the first day “until the Iron Dome came to Tel Aviv.”

“I still have trouble concentrating, but keeping busy at work keeps my mind off things,” she added.

Regarding the recent bus bombing yesterday, Kives said “Now that the bus terrorists are back, I'm not keen on public transport, but I don't have a car (and parking is too expensive in Tel Aviv anyway) so I am taking a bus to my choir practice tonight in Tel Aviv.”

“HAMAS wants to disrupt our life and eliminate Israel. I will not let them but, I will take precautions. In Israel cars are still more dangerous. Drinking and driving or driving while sleepy is more dangerous."

Kives relayed the contents of a telephone call she had with her son Shai:

Shai (son) to me (on mobile): Eema, just wanted you to know that I got a lift home instead of taking the bus, and I'm in Kfar Saba and safe.

Me: Thanks for letting me know, Shai. I am taking a bus to choir tonight. Are you scared?

Shai: No, I'm not scared. And if I was, then that is giving the Hamas what they want. That's what TERRORISM is about. To get us terrified.”

Kives, who in addition to choir practice also goes to salsa dancing parties, further emphasized that in Israel “The most dangerous place to be is on the road. I know quite a few people whose cars or who themselves have been injured in road accidents. One person was even run over in Ra’anana by a hit and run "kalnoa" (those are electric type vehicles that senior citizens or disabled people drive.) So in this case, a mean disabled person caused another person to be disabled.

Another aspect of life Kives finds she has to deal with is “second hand smoke”

“There is no smoking inside restaurants but, the smokers get the best seats outside,” she says.

She did have something to say about CBC news:

“I appreciate any Canadian support of Israel, by Jews or non-Jews alike but, the distortions (half-truths) by the CBC news must be petitioned and brought to light.”

Kives said that there are lots of other issues aside from terror attacks that need attention in Israel.

“Please keep your support going for every day issues, too. Education on the roads, perhaps free coffee for tired drivers at gas stations, subsidized day camps for school holidays (did you know that kids are off school for an entire week during Chanukah while their parents don’t even get one day off!) and the list goes on.”

“Obviously the highest degree of support for Israel is to make aliyah or to visit. But if you can’t, there are enough organizations that support to ease the cost of day to day living here or when you do come to visit, please remember to pack some coffee crisps chocolate bars because they are not sold here.”
On a closing note Kives emphasized that Israel is her home.

“As I told a friend of mine the other day, “Israel is my home and I prefer sirens over snow any day.”

It's Thursday morning and no missiles have fallen so far in Israel. Hopefully the only thing that will fall from the sky will be rain and maybe I'll get to hike on the weekend.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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