Speaking as a licensed Israeli tour guide, this has been a really tough summer for practically all of us in the Israeli tourism industry. One one hand, for those of us who have been in this business already for a while, we know only too well the cyclical nature of what we do for a living. It’s the nature of the beast. When times are good, grab whatever work you can, whenever you can. Because inevitably, there will be slow times, as now, as in the past, and as in the future.

It would be an understatement to say that that this has been a really, really tough summer for all of us living here in Israel. It started with the kidnapping/murder of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal, May G-d avenge their blood. The discovery of their bodies, the rioting in Jerusalem and throughout the country. Missiles fired at us from Gaza, one rocket falling just yards from my family as we were driving along the highway outside Jerusalem. Operation Protective Edge which when it first started we hoped would be completed in just a matter of weeks. Reservists, our neighbors, being called up for duty. Flight cancellations. And still the sirens wail.

And of course, the deaths. Too many. The soldiers who died while serving in the line of duty, the parents and the innocent children traumatized by the sirens and killed with the rockets.

And on top of all this chaos, and all the work cancellations I endured, I also suffered a great personal loss recently with the death of my father ob”m at the age of 79. And today I received the tragic news of a neighbor of ours, a young mother, who drowned saving her children from drowning.

It’s been a really tough summer, to say the least.

And so to you my fair weathered tourist, who cancelled your long planned summer vacation to Israel due to the situation, I bear no grudge. How could I! Why after all should you spend your hard earned dollars (no breaks from the airlines or hotels) to travel to a place which was being depicted by CNN and company as a place where Armageddon was imminent. Why celebrate a Bar Mitzvah in a place under fire when you can celebrate it safely somewhere else, like in Europe or the U.S.. I know first hand of the pressures you were being subjected to from friends and family to postpone your trip to another time.

And so you did. When things eventually quiet down you’ll be back. We’ll be here for you, and you’ll be there for us.

But to you my dear, dear friend, who despite your apprehensions you braved through it all and travelled here anyway; despite the dire warnings, despite the sirens, despite the falling rockets, despite the hot weather, despite the (some) rude Israelis, despite the high prices, despite CNN, despite what your family and friends said, you came anyway!

To you I can only say, that that’s the sign of a true friend. The friend that shows up when times are tough.

“True friends are placed together for the purpose of accomplishing great achievements that help others.” 
― Ellen J. Barrier