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Yom Kippur War: An American remembers being 17 in a kibbutz bunker

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There was air conditioning blasting in the recreation room. In the distance, the Golan’s usually craggy profile was barely visible behind the quivering mask of heat. Michael, my newly minted boyfriend from the British group, shuffled in. Black curls and emerald, cat-slitted eyes, topped off with an antic sense of humor.

Michael said: “I was wondering where you got to.”

I said: “I’m trying not to think about food.”

He reached across me to grab an outdated copy of Time -- but never quite got there. The air around us was suddenly exploding. “Bloody hell!” he said. “What was that?”

More ear-drum-shredding detonations in rapid succession shook the ground. Through the picture window, we saw smoke billowing from the Golan Heights. Someone shouted at us to run to the bomb shelters. I had no idea where to go. We followed a kibbutz member to a clearing, then down leaf-strewn steps to a door. He tugged on it. Locked. 

Michael and I took off at an adrenaline-infused sprint for Simcha’s house, dog-cringing at each explosion. She was standing in her garden with some neighbors.

I said: “What’s happened?”

She said: “We’re under attack. The Syrians crossed the border and are bombing the Golan. The Egyptians crossed into Sinai.”

“How do you know?”

“The Voice of Israel came back on the air. The chief rabbis were on the radio, saying that we’re at war and that it’s OK to break your fast now and not wait until sunset.”

“What should we do?”

“I suggest you return to your buildings.”

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