Adele Raemer is lucky to be alive.
In 2014, the Bronx-born Raemer’s home in Nirim, Israel, was hit by a Hamas rocket. She survived by hunkering down in a safe room.
“I heard a really loud explosion. I could tell it was really close. My bedroom walls were riddled with shrapnel,” Raemer, a 66-year-old widow, told The Post. “I went to my bedroom and a mortar had exploded about a yard away from my bedroom wall and went through the window and the walls. If I had been standing in the bedroom at that time I would not be here talking to you today.
“On that same day, two members of our community were killed when they were outside,” she added.
She’s been dodging close calls ever since.
While no place in Israel has ever been safe from Palestinian terrorism, few are more dangerous than Nirim. The small community, located in the northwestern Negev Desert, sits just a mile from the Gaza border. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and forcibly evicted their residents from the strip, the territory has come under control of Hamas terrorists who have launched thousands of rockets into Israel in the years since.
For Raemer, a high school English teacher, things have only gotten more dangerous since she first arrived in Nirim in 1975. The recent violence is the latest in a familiar pattern. The clashes began last week over a local real estate dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem as Israel looked to evict Palestinian families they said were unlawfully in their homes.
So far, more than 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza since the renewal of hostilities. At least 126 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in the violence so far.
Raemer settled in Nirim after she became acquainted with the area during her service in the Israeli Defense Forces. She says it was totally peaceful when she first arrived there.
Every room in Raemer’s home, where she has lived since 1997, has a television that stays on in times of crisis. Her life could depend on broadcast or audio alerts. During one conversation with The Post, she ducked into a safe room. It’s not uncommon for her to seek shelter five or six times a day. Going outside has been discouraged lately.
“If you hear the red alert, you know it’s a missile headed for your community,” she said. When the alarm sounds, there are only seconds to get to safety. Being caught outside or in the shower can be a death sentence.
Still, the indomitable Israelite hasn’t taken the terror lying down and has become something of a community activist. In 2011 she created a Facebook page dedicated to “give[ing] people who live within rocket-range of the missiles fired from the Gaza Strip an opportunity to describe what their lives are like — both during the calm periods as well as during periods of tension and high alert.” The site, “Life on the border with Gaza — things people may not know (but should),” has nearly 6,000 members. In December 2019 Raemer addressed the United Nations Security Council to describe the horrors of Palestinian terrorism.
In addition to rockets, Nirim has been beset by by “incendiary balloons” — ordinary balloons carrying burning coals or other explosives designed to set crops and property on fire. In one case Hamas used kites — which were reportedly donated to the children of Gaza by Japan — for the effort. In 2018 Raemer began putting together a Google Map charting where individual blazes had broken out and continues the project to this day.
In her spare time, Raemer also works as a hospital clown, cheering up children in Israeli hospitals who suffer from cancer and other ailments. It was a job she was inspired to do after watching the 1998 flick “Patch Adams.”
“This is what I do for my soul,” she said, noting that she has also performed for Palestinian children, who are also frequently treated in Israeli hospitals. “A smile is a smile, you don’t need language to laugh.”
Raemer is the only New Yorker in Nirim. She grew up near Mosholu Parkway. When she was 12, a modest Bat Mitzvah was held at the Mosholu Jewish Center. She once planned to study theater at NYU.
“But then in October  the Yom Kippur War broke out and then I said Israel needs me. So that’s when I came to live here,” she recalled.
Raemer moved to Israel just weeks after the bloody conflict had ended, with 2,656 Israelis killed. She was immediately drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces.
“As a parent looking back, I am flabbergasted. I am an only child. My parents were amazing. Either they didn’t love me very much or they were just unbelievable people who thought it was important to let their daughter find their own way,” Raemer remembered. A marriage followed, as did four children and seven grandchildren, who live in different places across Israel. Her second husband, a British immigrant, died in 2008.
Raemer, who still maintains her US citizenship and voted for Joe Biden, said she was committed to seeing out her time in Israel to the end.
“My parents are buried here. My husband is buried here. My roots here are very deep,” she said. “War crimes are being perpetrated by Hamas and people in the world need to understand that.”
“I stay here to bear witness,” she said.