“Are you safe?”

March 29-April 24, 2022.

There is no neat way to share my reactions to the recent string of terror attacks in Israel, so here are some semi-unfiltered thoughts I’ve recorded over the last few weeks.

March 29, 2022

I won’t lie, I’m scared. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. There was another shooting in a suburb of Tel Aviv. 5 people died. 2 of them Ukrainian refugees. The streets are empty tonight.

March 30, 2022

They told us Israel is on high alert. This 3rd act of terror within a week and a half indicates there could be more. I’m scared to leave my apartment, even just to get groceries or go to work. How can I?

April 3, 2022

Things have been quiet. I’m less nervous now. I started living normally again, but I’m more aware of my surroundings. I still look over my shoulder, I still keep my head up on the bus, and I still only walk with one headphone in. Bigger crowds make me a little nervous, but I think things are returning to normal again. Hopefully that’s the last of it.

April 7, 2022

I knew it from the first “are you safe?” text. This terror attack hit closer to home.
I saw “Shooting” and “Dizengoff Street” in the news alert, and I swear my heart stopped. Dizengoff Street. It happened at a bar on Dizengoff. In the center of Tel Aviv. A place I go every week. My hands shake, my heart pounds, and my eyes cry as I text my friends to see if they are okay. I’ve never felt true terror like this in my life. Terror that someone I know could’ve been there, could’ve gotten hurt, could’ve died. I felt frozen in fear.

I am shocked as the realization continues to set in that this happened at the bars my friends and I go to all the time. It’s packed on Thursday nights. It’s packed with innocent, young people just like me. I can’t stop crying. I can’t stop thinking that these are young, innocent people. I can’t stop thinking about their family and friends having to receive this unexplainable, heartbreaking news. I can’t stop thinking about how their futures once full of hope and promise, are now cut way too short. I thank God that everyone I know is safe. 

Two innocent people were just proclaimed dead. They think 8 more are injured. They still haven’t found the terrorist. He’s somewhere in Tel Aviv. I fell asleep refreshing the news, waiting to hear if they caught the gunman.

April 8, 2022

I wake up to see they found and killed him in Jaffa. I feel relieved for a minute. I start crying again. I can’t stop thinking about last night. I can’t stop thinking about how innocent lives were lost because of this. I can’t stop thinking about how they were both in their 20’s. I can’t stop thinking about how it could’ve been anyone.

The naive innocence I once felt while roaming the streets of Tel Aviv feels like a distant memory. I know I’m supposed to be strong. I know we can’t let terror win. We must keep living. I just don’t know how.

April 24, 2022.

I’ve struggled a lot with the idea of “not letting terror win” since this last entry. My fear lessened over time, but I didn’t know how, or if, I could ever feel the same freedom and safety I once felt in Tel Aviv. The horror of people close to my age dying while they did something I do regularly…it’s impossible to sit with that and feel normal.

But then something happened–a new, stronger feeling began to take over. I finally began to understand what Israeli’s mean when they say we can’t let the terrorists win. I realized that if we stay inside, if we live our lives differently, if we choose not to live in a place that seems unsafe, what would happen? If everyone did this, Israel could cease to exist. It would prove to the terrorists that this can push us out; but it won’t. We cannot and will not let terror and violence keep us from living in Israel, the only true homeland to the Jewish people.

Yes, it will be scary to keep living life “normally” sometimes, but I’ve come to realize that a world without Israel is much scarier to me.

.עם ישראל חי (Am Yisrael Chai–The People of Israel Live).

May the memory of all the victims of the recent terror attacks be for a blessing.

March 22 – Be’er Sheva: Doris Yahbas (49), Laura Yitzhak (43), Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky and Menahem Yehezkel, (67)

March 27 – Hadera: Yezen Falah and Shirel Abukarat, (both 19)

March 29 – B’nei Brak: Amir Khoury (32), Ya’akov Shalom (36), Avishai Yehezkel (29), Victor Sorokopot (38), Dimitri Mitrik (23)

April 7 – Tel Aviv: Tomer Morad (28), Eytam Magini (27), Barak Lufan (35)

To share, or not to share.

March 28, 2022.

Hey, it’s been a while.

I’ve missed writing this blog. I’ve missed the joys of the creative writing process. I’ve missed the challenge of finding just the right words or syntax to portray the abstract thoughts swirling around in my mind. I’ve missed the connection I feel to those who reach out about what I’ve written, saying something that resonated with them. I’ve missed the vulnerability of sharing my inner thoughts with the small piece of the world that reads this blog, and with it, the mini burst of nerves and excitement I feel when I finally click post. I’ve definitely missed this…so why haven’t I posted in almost 3 months?

The truth is, this blog is so special to me because I’ve always been honest about what I’m going through…but I guess it’s a lot easier to be honest when things are going well. Unfortunately, friendships, family, relationships, work, and all of the other little pieces of our lives get messy and hard sometimes; and the thought of sharing those messes with all the people who read this blog seemed impossible to me for a while.

I felt like I was at a crossroads: Should I share the difficult things I’ve been dealing with, or do I just stick to the easy and happier things in my life? I knew I definitely wasn’t ready for the first option, but the second felt inauthentic and wrong. So I did neither; I simply stopped writing.

I think many of you probably share my concerns about people only sharing their “highlight reels” on social media, but it’s really hard to be the one to actually take the leap and share the ugly stuff too. I want to be honest in telling people that moving away from home is really hard. It took time before I was hit with the reality of life in a new country, because I was seeing everything with rose-colored glasses for a long time.

That being said, I’m not posting this to detail all the ways in which my life has been hard lately, or to complain that what I’ve been going through is so enormously difficult or sad or anything like that (because it’s really not). I’m posting this to say I’m human and because I’m human, I have trouble admitting to you all that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

I am overcome with relief and excitement as I finally write for this blog again. I look outside and see that the spring season is finally here; the season of renewal. I feel this opportunity for renewal in many aspects of my life, and it seems like the perfect time to start writing again.

Kalanit (Red Poppy) flowers blooming all over Israel

More questions than answers.

November 20, 2021.

To whomever reads this post: I am choosing to share my experiences surrounding a complex, emotional, and historical topic in which I am not an expert. I debated whether or not to share this because I know there are millions of people out there who would hate what I have to say, however, I think it would be just as crazy to ignore this giant elephant in a blog about life in Israel. I hope that you read this with kind and curious intentions. If you have a problem with something I wrote, it’s really okay–I promise. I invite discussion, but only respectfully. I also invite you to accept that it is okay to disagree. We all have different perspectives and legitimate life experiences that have led us to hold certain beliefs. Each one of our opinions and perspectives is valid and important, and it’s what makes this world go ‘round. 

I’ve spent years now trying to figure out my opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I’ve found that my thoughts just keep evolving as I learn new information. And by evolving, I mostly mean I move closer to the conclusion that there is no “right” side, no “right” perspective, and no “right” solution. The problem is that in a conflict this complex, with this much history, there is always more to learn, more people to talk to, more perspectives to understand. I write this post knowing that the views I hold today could very well change tomorrow.

I am also aware that I am viewing this conflict from a very specific lens; I am a Jewish-American woman who has never lived in Israel through this conflict. Some may say this gives me no right to have an opinion. I disagree. As someone who grew up in the Jewish diaspora*, I am inherently and inextricably linked to Israel. Even if I wanted to ignore my Judaism and/or denounce Israel (which I don’t), there are still people all around the world that would connect me to Israel, blame me, and hate me because Judaism is in my blood.

I had the opportunity to further explore the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during an MITF Shabbaton (Shabbat retreat weekend) in Jerusalem. During the retreat, we explored Jerusalem, including diving deep into learning about the borders, walls, and all the confusing lines that divide this holy city.

One of the stops on the tour was visiting Rachel’s tomb (located in Bethlehem). Seeing the walls lining both sides of the street on our way there was…weird. I learned that the walls create a path for Israelis and other tourists to visit Rachel’s tomb, while simultaneously cutting into Palestinian territory in the West Bank. These walls make it much more difficult for Palestinians to travel in this area. It was here that I learned Rachel’s tomb is also a holy site for Muslims, yet Palestinians are not permitted to visit. 

Walls surrounding the street with access to Rachel’s Tomb.

I found myself feeling conflicted and frustrated for the first (but not the last) time that day. Hearing this reminded me of the frustration I, and many other Jews, feel over the Dome of the Rock. The #1 holiest place in all of Judaism, the site of the Second Temple, is the ground beneath the Temple Mount, the 3rd holiest place in Islam. The Palestinian Authority has autonomy over this part of Jerusalem, and it is inaccessible to Jews. It is illegal for Jews to utter a prayer on the platform surrounding the Dome of the Rock, as well as forbidden for them to enter the Mosque.

When I learned of this a couple years ago, I was angry. I was angry and confused why the Jewish people were denied the opportunity to visit the most sacred place in our entire religion. How could that be ignored? Why would Israel allow this to happen? Why aren’t more people angry about this? It simply isn’t fair. 

After visiting Rachel’s tomb and learning that Palestinians were denied the right to visit a sacred place for them too, a part of me saw it as a tit for tat and thought “sucks for them, that’s what they get for taking the site of the Second Temple from us”. But I found that there was another part of me that thought “I hate that this is happening to me and my people, why would I wish it upon others?”

This experience is just one of many confusing and frustrating pieces of the conflict that (in my opinion) accurately portray how neither side is truly winning. I don’t have answers or solutions, but I have questions and curiosity that I will continue to follow as I continue to learn about my new home. 

There is much more I can and want to share about what I’ve learned from the Shabbaton, and maybe I will eventually. For now, this is what I’ve got for ya. 

*Jewish diaspora – the dispersion of Jews out of their ancestral homeland (the Land of Israel) and their subsequent settlements in other parts of the globe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_diaspora#:~:text=The%20Jewish%20diaspora%20(Hebrew%3A%20%D7%AA%D6%B0%D6%BC%D7%A4%D7%95%D6%BC%D7%A6%D6%B8%D7%94,other%20parts%20of%20the%20globe.)

Grieving from across the world.

October 31, 2021.

I have really struggled to write this post. No matter how many times I tried, it just didn’t feel right. I contemplated if it was because this was just too raw–maybe it was something I just shouldn’t post online–but now I know it’s because the story wasn’t complete yet. 

Something my roommate, Katie, and I first bonded over when we met back in August was our biggest fear in moving here: losing our grandparents (my grandpa, Papa, and her grandma, Mamama) and not being home for it. We both had grown up extremely close to them. We both had witnessed their battles with cancer for 10+ years, along with various other health scares and complications; yet in the last few months we saw their health decline more rapidly and severely than ever before. We both said our goodbyes in August knowing that it would probably be the last time we saw them.

Losing a grandparent is heartbreaking. Losing a grandparent while living on the other side of the world, apart from all family, hurts in a completely different way than the loss itself. It’s a very unique kind of pain in which you feel alone and so extremely far removed. Three weeks ago it became a pain I understood.

It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to hear the news that my grandpa had passed away through the phone. Not being able to physically be there with my family and no way to truly “rush home” to get there was so sad and frustrating. The worst part was that I had nobody here that understood the feelings of loss and loneliness and helplessness that accompanied a situation like this. My roommates and friends were wonderful and did their best to help, but it’s just not the same when nobody else is grieving with you. 

After pleading with the Israeli government, I got the permission I needed to change my visa to fly home for the funeral and shiva. The relief I felt when I hugged my family, the heaviness of saying goodbye to Papa at the funeral, the tears, laughs, and everything else we managed to squeeze in in between–it all felt right. This is what Papa would’ve wanted: for his family to be together.

Coming back to Israel felt weird. I was so happy and eager to return, but it almost felt like I left my grief back in New York. I felt guilty for letting myself pretend it wasn’t happening–or didn’t happen–but it’s hard not to ignore when nobody else around you is also going through it. There are no reminders other than when I talk to my family on the phone. This life for me here has never been tied to him. 

Three short weeks later, Katie got the same heartbreaking news. When she told me, it was as if I found out about Papa all over again. It hurt in my chest so deeply I could’ve sworn I was reliving that night three weeks ago. I hurt for her because I physically felt her pain. I knew exactly what she was going through. I couldn’t believe it was also happening to her, and so soon after me.

I could make an entire blog post about all the freaky similarities between Papa and Mamama, our families, and the ways in which this all unfolded. Katie and I have spent so much time in the last few days discussing all the signs and connections, but I prefer for those to stay between us. What I choose to share on the internet is the connection I finally felt here. The peace I am beginning to feel just by talking to someone who understands, and by helping my friend through something I, too, am finding my way through. 

I can’t help feeling like this is it. This is the Universe, God, the magic of Israel, Papa, and Mamama, all working together to help us find peace. To help us help each other, grieve together, and just not be alone in this. 

Sitting at the kitchen table or in our room or on the beach, talking about Papa and Mamama–we grieve together. We talk, we cry, we laugh, we sit in the discomfort of grief. Most importantly, though, we went through it–and are getting through it–together. 


I send my love and condolences to Katie’s family and friends who knew and loved Mamama. Katie spoke so highly of her and their memories together, and it is clear that she will be so deeply missed by all. What a wonderful legacy she leaves behind.

❤️ May Papa and Mamama’s memories forever be a blessing. ❤️