Cat Korren

Dear Hersh —

Source: Author

Almost 10 months have gone by since I saw you last on the grass fields of the Modem music festival. Nearly 10 months since I wandered around that first morning, lost, overwhelmed, slightly lonely, looking at the crowds of people and wondering to myself “how am I going to do this for another seven days?” Almost 10 months since you caught my gaze, your knowing smile and khaki vest, teva sandals, and easy going walk saying without words – “Don’t worry sister, an Israeli brother is always right beside you.” There was a pureness in your smile, like an old soul that holds all the answers, that has seen it all, wrapped within the body of a new soul beaming the joy of experiencing the world for the very first time. It’s a smile that spreads over you, within you, that offers a calmness so sure of itself that you can’t help but land exactly in that moment, to go outside yourself and see the world transformed through Hersh’s eyes. From chaotic darkness to expansive color. 

“Where are you going?” you asked. And even though I had no clue, I said “to a meditation workshop, want to come?” Without skipping a beat, you were on board, and every sensation of loneliness left my body. You transformed that feeling of lost into a curiosity for the unknown, bravery in the uncertainty of what’s to come. As our feet found their rhythm together, you showed me pages of your notebook, full of drawings and signatures and phone numbers of beautiful people you had met along the way that summer in your festival adventures, a happiness gleaming through you, emanating gratitude not just for the experiences you had but the people you met in your path. This is your natural gift, to celebrate life, not only your own, but the life of those around you. Sometimes even more than they celebrate it themselves. I thought to myself, “what a rare bird, abandoning all self consciousness for the sake of connection, freely approaching strangers and bringing them under his wing, helping them fly.” 

We spent two hours of a breathing and movement workshop together but apart — always knowing you were there, beside me, supporting me, but experiencing it as two individuals finding peace amongst the pounding of the beat. Your eyes catching mine at the most vulnerable moments, and that same smile spreading over your face, the smile that paints the world of color. You reminded me just by who you are that everything is a passing wave, not to take any of my emotions too seriously, to flow to the rhythm of my own beat. You surely dance to the rhythm of yours.

For the seven days to come, you were a pillar of balance, a promise of friendship in an environment that pulses with chaos. In the most intense vibrations of the music, seeing you beside me was a reminder to breathe, to pause and give myself a moment of presence, of love, and more importantly, to give love to the person standing next to me. Sometimes I saw you, completely lost in the beat, jumping higher than everyone around you, pure ecstaticism emanating from your being. And sometimes I observed you in an exchange, notebook in hand, transforming moments of fleeting connection into long lasting friendships. Your natural gift. 

Almost 10 months have gone by since I saw you last, nearly seven of which you have spent in captivity. 202 days that I can’t get you off my mind, thinking how you transformed my fear into love, my loneliness into companionship. 202 days that I wish I could do the same for you. 202 days missing you on the dancefloor, of the world aching to see your smile again. You are not alone, and your parents are the truest testimony for where your bravery comes from. You are the son, the brother, the friend of millions of people across the world, and we are not here to “remember you”. We are celebrating you for the beating heart of love and freedom you were, are, and always will be. I’m not sure if you’re counting the days, if you feel the world crying for your return. But I promise you, we all promise you, please do not worry, your brothers and sisters are right beside you.

About the Author
Cat Korren is a writer, researcher and explorer born and raised in New York but based in Israel for the past five years. Having spent three semesters of her Bachelor's degree at New York University's Tel Aviv campus, she engaged deeply with the history, archaeology and theology of the Holy Land. An avid world traveler, Cat's deep curiosity for culture, language and community have provided her with first hand experiences which give her unique lens as a Jewish, American-Israeli woman moving through of the world.
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