“Did your family pick up their gas masks yet?” Moishe asked his friend Avreimi as the boys rode their bikes downWolfson Street.

“The line was too long yesterday,” the boy replied. “We’re going to try again tonight.”

“We needed a baby carriage for twins just to bring all ours home,” Chaim commented from the other side. “That was the only way we could carry so many boxes. Seven adult masks, six youth masks, and three of those mapuach things for the little kids.”

“What’s a mapuach thing?” Benny matched their speed as he squeezed his bicycle between them.

“You have to see it to understand,” Moishe responded. “It’s a big plastic bag that fits over the whole top half of a little kid.”

“How do they breathe?” Benny slowed down, bouncing one foot on the street for balance.

“It’s connected to a pump that pulls air through a filter.” Chaim stopped pedaling and glided. “It works with batteries. It looks more comfortable than ours. Regular masks have to be pressed airtight against the skin all around the face.”

Benny resumed pedaling. “What about our fathers? Can a mask be airtight over a beard?”

“That’s a real problem. In the Knesset, Agudas Yisrael demanded that men with beards get mapuach masks but the government says that there aren’t any in stock and men with beards should just shave!” Moishe declared.

“My Tatty will never shave!” Benny exclaimed.

“What about little babies?” Avreymi asked.

“They designed huge plastic aquariums with ports shaped like gloves,” Moishe informed them.

Benny shook his head. “I can’t believe this is happening. IsIsraelreally in danger from poison gas or bacteria?”

“You don’t have to stay. Your family can go back toAmericaand live with your aunt,” Moishe pointed out.

“No!” Benny declared. “This is where we live!” He wasn’t sure exactly when he had stopped missingSt. Louis, but Benny knew that he belonged inIsraeland not six thousand miles away. The idea of living through a war was pretty scary, but this was home now. Or it would be when Mommy came back.