How many times has your school put you under lockdown? Once every few months? A few times a month? What was the longest you’ve been under lockdown?

Oh, wait. There are many different reasons for lockdown. First, let me specify for what reason: because there’s a group of citizens spread throughout the country sporadically pulling out knives and guns stabbing and shooting innocent civilians… Or taking a joy ride… To run over innocent pedestrians… Or for having no self-respect and blowing themselves up just to take some holy souls down with them…

How often does that happen for you?

I’ve been on lockdown for almost two weeks now. And this isn’t the first time. Last year, I spent weeks at a time not being able to walk out of my city. See, slight difference that I like to call a blessing is that I’m on lockdown in the holiest city in the whole entire world. So, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that I’m on lockdown here. Because I can’t imagine being on lockdown anywhere else.

Being on lockdown, you’d expect to feel so unproductive, useless, helpless… Yet the mere act of breathing here is making a difference. Because I walk around breathing in the air of my home and then a smile slowly but genuinely comes along my face… And before I know it, I’m that weirdo who walks around the streets smiling at all times. The difference of being that weirdo here versus back where I used to live (in America) is the alternative reasons for the use of that smile. Here, I don’t only use it to express my genuine feeling of wholeness, satisfaction and happiness. I use it with sadness too — to smile for those who are robbed of their opportunity to share their own smiles. I use it as a weapon. To show that even in the hardest of times, I can still be a human and live life — to show I cannot be broken. And that is why my mere reflexive act of breathing means more here. Because it is helping the rest of my family as we go through this horror together.

Part and parcel of becoming an Israeli is the sad reality of hearing the lies. Is hearing the minute by minute attacks. Is hearing that within the past two weeks, 7 have been killed and 92 wounded from a multitude of heinous attacks.

But part and parcel of being an Israeli is also not giving up. But continuing to fight. To be genuine to who we are.

Because as the terrorists praise the stabbing of an innocent 13 year old, as they glorify the teen who decided to stab five innocent human beings, as they compete in the game of “murder as many as you can” to win the prize of “have a street named after you,” as they spread hate…we stay true to who we are. We spread love. We don’t break. Instead, we pack and send care packages to our beloved young soldiers who are faced with death at every second of their existence. We make it part of our daily agenda to compliment someone to put a smile on their face. We gather to sing songs of love and peace bringing happiness into our fellow’s life.

We sit and wait for that one day when the world wakes up. For that one day we call redemption… For the one day we know is near…

I sit and wait. To be able to walk the streets of my beautiful country. Not because I’m sick of being locked in the holiest city in the world. But because I miss my family on the other side.

I sit and wait for my holy brothers I call heroes to be able to go home, lie down in bed for the first time in what feels like forever, and not be afraid that they’ll be called back on duty. For them to take a deep breath of relief as they breathe their first breath, for they no longer fear for their lives.

I sit and wait. For the day that everyone has it on their daily agenda to put a smile on someone’s face.

I sit here with tears streaming down my face… Until they get caught at the smile on my mouth… Yes, I continue to smile. Because I will never let them take away my smile. For I will NEVER let the hate get to me. Because the minute I let the hate, and the tragedy caused by the hate, break me — they’ve won. And they will continue to spread hate until it fully consumes the world.

So I smile as I wait for the day this hate is destroyed and my family and I can walk the streets with a smile on our face — but not as a weapon. Rather, solely as a genuine vehicle to express the inner satisfaction knowing we were not broken. We stayed true to who we are. We stayed the truthful and loving nation that we are.