While the crisis in Israel is taking place nearly 6,000 miles away, it has changed the day-to-day life of May Dayan, who hails from Ashdod, Israel, and whose family resides there.
“I call them after every class, before every class, 10, 15 times a day just to make sure that everything’s fine and they’re fine,” Dayan, a freshman guard on the women’s basketball team, said after the Owls’ game against Rutgers on Nov. 21.
The Israeli conflict began when Israel retaliated against sporadic attacks from militant groups within Palestine by firing rockets of their own into Gaza on Nov. 14. The two sides exchanged primarily aerial and artillery assaults for eight days until Egypt helped initiate truce talks that have both sides operating under a cease-fire.
While Dayan has been dealing with the experience from home, two former Owls found themselves in the middle of the crossfire.
Former women’s guard Shey Peddy plays for Hapoel Rishon-Lezion in Israel and former men’s guard Ramone Moore had been playing for Israel’s Hapoel Tel-Aviv. Moore was in Rishon, Israel for less than a month before returning to the U.S. during Thanksgiving break to get away from the attacks.
Moore played in one game on Nov. 12 for five minutes and went 0-for-3 shooting on the night. The team’s next game on Nov. 19 was played despite the fighting.
“It was a great experience, it was a great country,” Moore said. “I just thought it was unsafe for me. I tried to stick it out for a little bit.”
For Peddy, in Rishon, Israel, and Dayan, who grew up in Ashdod, Israel, the fighting has been especially stressful, although for different reasons.
Peddy resides roughly 45 minutes from where some of the missiles were fired, she said via email on Friday, Nov. 23. She tweeted about games being canceled and hearing sirens and explosions when the fighting began on Nov. 14.
“I have never been in a situation like this where bomb sirens are going off every day, so I would be lying if I said it was easy,” Peddy said.
Dayan grew up dealing with the sporadic fighting, but she was always with her family, which she said made things easier.
“When I was there and it happened at least I knew what’s going on and what we’re doing,” Dayan said. “But now when I’m away I have no idea what’s going on…it’s hard to be here and not be with them in this situation, but they’re doing fine.”
Dayan said her home city is among those hit hardest, with sirens going off multiple times a day to warn citizens to seek shelter. It’s something she grew accustomed to for most of her life.
“Every time they’re out and the siren goes on and then they need to go to the safe place,” Dayan said. “They’re doing fine…but my sister doesn’t go to school, my mother doesn’t go to work.”
Peddy said Rishon was one of the safer places in Israel. Two rockets struck the fourth-largest city in the nation, and she’s been told that’s the first time they have ever been hit. She said she’s felt safe, even though her family has expressed concern and wants her to return to the U.S.
“I am a family person so I have been in contact with my family every day,” Peddy said. “I know they are still worried about me so I keep them updated with everything that is going on in Israel.”
While Dayan has worried constantly for her family’s safety, Peddy learned how to manage the situation with the help of her team.
“[City officials] keep us updated with all security alerts,” Peddy said. “If anything happens our coaches and teammates make sure that we are OK.”
“Israeli teammates talking about ‘Relax, don’t be afraid of the bombings. It’s normal,’” she tweeted on Nov. 14.
Despite the security measures several players in the Israel D-I league have left to stay with family, Peddy said.
“Some players have been moved out of their city to a safer place, practices have been canceled and games have been postponed,” Peddy said. “Some players have expressed the importance of going home to be with their families and plane tickets have been purchased.”
Coach Tonya Cardoza and the rest of the Owls stay up-to-date with the news as much as possible and make it a point to make sure one of their newest members is OK and coping as best as possible.
“We’re a family so we’re definitely going to look out for [Dayan] and make sure,” Cardoza said. “Obviously she’s not the type of person that’s going to sit here and moan about it or whatever.”
“She’s not going to let anybody know that something’s bothering her unless you’re asking her questions,” Cardoza added. “So she’s not really talking about it, but we’ve made a point to talk to her about it to see how she is doing.”
Dayan didn’t let the stress affect her on the court, maintaining the importance of her other family: her teammates.
“When I play basketball I try to be focused on basketball,” Dayan said.
Peddy, meanwhile, said she was less focused on her career and more worried about keeping safe and adjusting to the unfortunate lifestyle that comes with living in Israel.
“However, I don’t think that I would ever get to a point where I would be completely comfortable with this situation, but I thank everyone for their efforts in trying to keep me safe and also giving me a piece of mind,” Peddy said.
Peddy’s next scheduled game is on Dec. 3. Dayan takes the court again for the Owls tomorrow, Nov. 28, for the first time since the firing ceased. Both players said they hope the truce continues.
Jake Adams can be reached at Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jakeadams520.