Under fire: Clarke Rosenberg’s war diary from Ashkelon

Oct 11, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Clarke Rosenberg is one of the veteran naturalized Israeli players in the country. The 30-year old small forward plays for Elitzur Asheklon in the Leumit League and arrived in the Holy Land in 2015 when he signed with Hapoel Holon. Since then Rosenberg has played for a number of teams including Kiryat Ata, Hapoel Afula, Hapoel Beer Sheva and Nahariya. Just as he was about to begin his third season in Ashkelon, he was named captain as war broke out.

He shares his personal diary with The Sports Rabbi as he lets us see through his eyes the trials and tribulations that millions in Israel are currently going through.

Rosenberg’s Israel life diary

Season 8 Ashkelon captain
Pre-season
Preseason has been good a lot of hard work and dedication.
Monday practice 11-2 calm
Tuesday practice 12-3 push most game days
Wednesday 11-2 calm recovery
Thursday 11-3 push + lift +recovery
Friday 10-12 – push + lift
Saturday off day – 630 am beach run +recovery
Sunday 12-2 push + lift

Clarke Rosenberg – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


Regular season week lock in game 1 Friday October 13th

Sukkot September 29th

War breaks out in Israel on last night of sukkot Friday October 6th Saturday morning October 7th at 6 am war breaks Gaza Hamas terrorist invasion 48hrs of hell.

Alarms sounding every hour on the hour

Saturday October 7th
Unknown: we thought it was just a normal bombing of missiles from Gaza that the iron dome would block. No. nothing normal about this attack. As we would soon find out.

We run to our safe room for about 2 hours before the sirens stop. Then emerge to find out it was an invasion going on.

Terror sets in and we call everyone.

Turn on the news and find out the Israel villages around Gaza has been invaded by terrorist and we should stay inside.

Around noon we find out there was a festival near the area that has been invaded and nobody knows how many people have been hurt or killed or taken.

After that the number of people dead and missing kept increasing from 50 to 100 then 200 3,4,5,6…. All the way to around a 900+ people dead and 200 taken kidnapped a day later. And while some teammates move to Tel Aviv with friends I stayed in Ashkelon in my safe room debating what to do next with a heavy heart.

Clarke Rosenberg – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


Monday October 9th
The unknown of what will happen next is strangling.

Should we leave the south and go north or leave and fly to another country or even go home to the Chicago all thoughts crossing my mind. October 7th the Sukkot massacre will forever pain my heart! Most people killed in a day since the Holocaust! A day of morning!

Monday running out of food I run to the grocery store. Crazy crowded and groceries missing almost the whole store gone and lines around the corner I start trying to check items off my list. After getting a couple thing the scariest thing happens the bomb sirens go off and everyone starts running to the back of the store and into the basement. For about 20 minutes we stood together frightened for our lives and once we were given the all clear, everyone cleared out majority of the people left their groceries and drove home while I grabbed a few more things and headed to check out. Knowing this will probably be my best and maybe last chance for a while to get groceries. Heading home I am speeding past army soldiers and run inside my apartment.

Watching the news the stories get worse and worse and with a heavy heart I step away to my balcony to get fresh air and just then another alarm goes off and we rush back into the safe room and lock the door.

Family and friends now understand the severity of situation.

My family call me asking a lot of questions I don’t have answers too like. what’s next ? Why they attacking? Are you safe? Can you leave? Will the team buy you a ticket? Why don’t you go north or is it safe to go north? All questions I don’t have answers to. Praying for safety and a clear mind to make decisions. As a man you’re taught not to show your emotions and sometimes we don’t even know what emotions we feel is it sadness or anger or fear or all combined.

While trying to stay informed about the war and not go crazy or brake down from anxiety fear and stress.
So tonight I have decided to stay inside my place in Ashkelon in my safe room. Praying that we get control of the situation and we remain safe. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Clarke Rosenberg – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


Tuesday October 10th
More pain more stress more morning more suffering. No sleep. Alarms sound and the news reports thousands dead. My team manager lost family members. My friends lost family and friends. My heart can’t take it no more. Around 4 pm we get reports Hamas will be heavily bombing Ashkelon tonight so we decide to leave and went to Rishon to a friends. After talking to my agent decided to go to Greece until things smooth over.

Airport Tuesday night around 6pm flight at 8pm and it was ridiculously packed. Praying to make the flight I wait for around a hour to check bags and 45 minutes through security rush to the gate. I made my flight. I can breathe again. Landed safely and look for hotel with no idea how long the conflict will last. Wish me luck. Praying for all my friends and family who lost someone. With a heavy heart I write this and I stand with Israel.

Daily Thoughts
How can this happen?!. What did terrorist hope to gain from such senseless violence? What will Israel response be? How many lives has this touched? Hate around the world how can people try to justify terrorism.

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