After the Holidays

It’s time to start that diet, to clean the house, to get back to work and school, to do home renovations and clothing alterations. All of the improvements we want to make in our lives, we tend to push off until the excitement of the cooking, eating, shopping, eating, sukkah-building, eating, and lots of extra family time has died down. The sukkah has been put away, the house is back in order, school and work are back in session. We have time to do everything we’ve been pushing off until “after the holidays.” It’s an opportunity and a challenge. Will we live up to our own personal expectations?

This year, Israelis are asking a slightly different question: Will we live to fulfill everything we pushed off?

The current wave of terror started washing through the country on Sukkot, with two parents being shot dead in their car in front of their four children. The holiday ended with a stabbing attack on pedestrians in Jerusalem’s Old City that left two fathers dead and a mother and toddler wounded.

Our holiday joy is subdued.

The first day everyone went back to school after the holiday vacation, our headlines look this: “Stabbing Attack in Jerusalem.” “Stabbing Attack in Kiryat Gat.” “Stabbing Attack in Afula.” “Near-Lynch on Cars on Judea Highway.”

We’re nervous.

Every day, there are more attacks around the country, mostly stabbings. One day, I knew I was keeping up with the news more than my husband, and whenever I walked through the room I simply named a location and held up the number of fingers of wounded Jews. Our conversation went something like this.
“Hi. How are you? Kiryat Arba.”
(a half hour later)
“Did all the kids shower yet? Haneviim Street.”
(an hour later)
“Thanks for washing the dishes. Afula.”

Everyone has access to kitchen knives. You don’t need engineering skills or even an instruction kit downloaded from the internet to assemble this weapon. One of the stabbers in Afula, one in Jerusalem’s Old City, and one near Maale Adumim were young women. There’s no typical terrorist profile anymore.

When we step out of the house, any Arab is a potential murderer. We’re nervous about sending our kids to school. There was even a strike earlier this week over the lack of proper school security. Some of my friends are scared to go grocery shopping. I refuse to enter the stores where Arabs work with cleavers at the meat counter. We all look over our shoulders as we walk down the street, especially past construction sites, where Arab workers operate lethal tractors and carry pointy screwdrivers.

It is one week after the holidays. The last twenty hours have been especially nerve-wracking. Yesterday afternoon, the third terror attack of the day, in which two Palestinian teenagers stabbed a Jewish teenager and young man, was on the street in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev where my brother-in-law lived until recently. The last attack of the day was an attempt to stab a soldier and steal his gun on a bus at the entrance to Jerusalem, less than a hundred meters from my baby’s preschool. The first attack today was a stabbing in my mother-in-law’s quiet hometown, Ra’anana.

Yes, I’m scared. No, I don’t plan on accepting my mother’s offer of airplane tickets to escape back to America.

As I am writing this, there was another stabbing, in Cholon, and a shooting attack on a bus in Jerusalem. Oh, I don’t type fast enough. Make that two attacks in Jerusalem. A terrorist just plowed his car into a bus stop and then started stabbing people. Two killed. Twenty six injured.

I don’t think anxiety is very good for post-holiday diets.

About the Author
Miriam Burstein is a mother, teacher, freelance writer and translator and blogger at She holds a Master's degree from the Shaindy Rudoff Creative Writing Program in Bar Ilan University. A US ex-pat, she has been living in Israel for fifteen years.