For Haifa Hillel’s Inbar Bluzer, bomb sirens are not the sounds she likes to hear first thing in the morning.
"At 6:00 a.m. I prefer waking up to music or even the ‘beep-beep’ of my alarm clock rather than to that," she muses from her apartment in Haifa.
Inbar, recently the Hillel-Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and five surrounding colleges, started as director of Hillel’s new Haifa center less than two weeks ago. She was dealing with the frustration of cancelled meetings at local universities when we spoke. Both Haifa University and the Technion temporarily closed due to shelling from Hezbollah outposts in Lebanon. Final exams were postponed.
"So I think I’ll take care of other business, like meetings I need to have in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva," she says.
While the fall semester is expected to resume in late October, construction on the new Hillel facility was to take place throughout the summer. It will take more time now as the workers have been advised to stay off the streets, to stay in their homes or shelters.
"The center may not be fully ready when the students come back," she says.
In addition, Inbar has been planning fall programs, including activities for students from abroad. She wonders what impact the present situation might have.
"I wonder how many students from abroad might come or will they still come?" asks Inbar. "But I hope this won’t affect their attendance."
Reflecting on her own situation, she says she feels safe and is staying in Haifa.
"I've been in touch with many people from Hillel. It’s very powerful energy. It gives me the power to deal with this and not to be afraid," says Inbar.