These past few weeks have been the hardest weeks I’ve experienced in Israel. Constantly getting alerts to my phone about the next attack, having meetings about security and the precautions — it’s not easy. People I know talking about going home or not leaving their dorms out of fear, but I am yet to think like that. As I am extremely aware and cautious of my surroundings, I refuse to let myself really get scared. The thought of going home hasn’t even crossed my mind — giving the enemy what they want is not an option, letting fear and paranoia into my head is not an option. I came to Israel wanting to make a difference and to stand with my country — no person or group of people attacking civilians — is going to get in the way of that.
I chose to spend my gap year this year at Midreshet Torat Chessed, a seminary in Netanya, based at Bet Elazraki Children’s Home that combines Torah study together with chessed work with underprivileged Israeli children on a daily basis. Working with my kids at Bet Elazraki (8-12 year old Tromiot Girls) has been amazing. They warmed up quickly and love the idea of an American being there for them. Whether I am doing homework with them, playing a game, or even just laying in their beds with them playing a game on my phone, I know I am affecting them.
One girl turned to me and said “why are you here? There’s so many fun things to do in Israel?” I looked at her and said I’m here for you — to hangout and talk with you. She smiled, sat back down on my lap and squeezed my hand. Yes there are hard days where I question if I’m making a difference…But does that make me give up? Of course not. I continue to go back everyday and continue on this amazing journey.
So too, when our enemies start attacking people, and times get hard for the Jewish people- am I going to get scared and change my daily routine? No, Chas Vishalom. Every day I will continue to grow and learn from my girls here at Bet Elazraki, who have already made an impact on my life- and hopefully I will continue to impact theirs as well. Just as I will stay here standing tall and proud for my country, my home. עם ישראל חי.