I’ve just returned from a family visit in Frankfurt, Germany, where I met my two daughters and their families. Despite the presence of October 7th and the ongoing war in our thoughts, having small children around dictated how we talked about Israel and the war. Perhaps that was for the best. One of my daughters mentioned that in the US, they perceive a very different picture of the war, while the other reminded me that Israel is intensely disliked. This is not surprising; we can’t expect the world to bear in mind that in Israel, among civil society, there’s strong opposition to Netanyahu and his corrupt government and coalition. However, it was reassuring to learn that my daughters are well-informed and regularly check Haaretz news updates throughout the day.
At the airport flying back to Israel, I was totally unimpressed with the efficiency of the German border control police. While there was no queue for EU members, we had to wait for 40 minutes to have our passports stamped. When it was finally my turn, the policeman looked at me suspiciously and made a call. When my passport was finally stamped, I asked what the problem was. He said, “You have too many stamps, you need a new passport.” It was disappointing to see that, on a regular weekday, the German police assigned only two policemen for this task, the same number as those present for the EU members’ line, where passengers simply scanned their passports, resulting in a long wait at border control on the way out of Germany
Returning through the almost deserted Ben Gurion airport was disheartening, starkly contrasting our packed flight from Frankfurt. Currently El Al is the only airline that fly from Frankfurt to Israel, as all international airlines have suspended their flights since the beginning of the war.
Finally back home, I hoped that after being away for 10 days, the war would have ended and my assistance at the vegan restaurant would no longer be required. Sadly, that didn’t happen. However, what did happen was that resources for this initiative are dwindling, making it much harder to gather donations for the food we send to reserve duty soldiers participating in the war.
Nonetheless, being back among my fellow volunteers and meeting the drivers who come to collect the boxes was heartwarming. Upon entering the restaurant, there was a small sign that I hadn’t noticed until the restaurant owner drew my attention to it. It was a personal welcome back note that my friends at the restaurant had put up on the wall. I was very happy to see it, and it touched my heart. Gestures like these, especially during hard times, truly make life much better.