Adi Bigel

Facing Losses as Part of Jewish Life

As a Jewish woman born and raised outside of Israel, with a strong connection to her homeland, I have become all too accustomed to loss. These losses, whether they be the end of friendships or end of peoples’ lives, are gut-wrenching. I have become too good at recognizing the tone of bad news on a person’s tongue. I have become too good at picking up on the sickly sweet perfume of a close one’s true face revealing itself. And I have become too good at knowing when these will happen.

Throughout my childhood, I was surrounded by Jewish peers and like-minded individuals. I had seen what people had to say about Israel and Israelis mostly online, but had never dealt with hatred from an individual who could affect my feelings. It was only when I entered college that I learned just how close these hidden haters could be.

People I thought I could trust–people I had spent multiple days in a row studying for midterms, complaining about professors, eating, laughing, sharing experiences, bonding with–reveal their positions so slowly, and then all at once. No matter how many times I have experienced it, I still feel as though the rug is swept from under me every time. With each and every mention of Israel, I lose friends. With every attack on my people, I lose both friends and family. It is painful, an intense iron-hot sting that eventually dulls and leaves a mark. I am always reminded of my place in this world, and the reminder becomes stronger with each and every blow. No matter where I live and what I do, Israel will always be the breaking point.

On October 7th, I was mentally preparing myself to hear the worst. I had begun to hear small inklings here and there–some of my friends were at the rave, family friends live in one of the kibbutzim–but I was preparing myself for the onslaught of #FreePalestine on my feed. To my surprise, though, I was bombarded with messages of sympathy and prayers. For the first time in my entire life, I was seeing non-Jewish Israel sympathizers. This golden ray of sunshine was quickly clouded back over once the war began. From videos of posters depicting the kidnapped by Hamas (some as young as six months old) being torn down to hundreds of thousands of protestors calling for another intifada, my feed was choking on #FreePalestine. This was my reminder. Jews have very few allies.

I began ending friendships in waves I had never seen before. One, two, three… Former classmates, former roommates, former friends I had considered family. Not only did they not show any sympathy for the loss of innocent Israeli (and non-Israeli) lives at the festival and the nearby kibbutzim, they joined protests justifying Hamas’ attack. I had never felt such hurt, such disgust, and such betrayal.

To my Jewish brothers and sisters abroad, all this is not to say we cannot have non-Jewish friends. I have many myself. But it is to say that you are not alone in discovering the truth in some of these friendships. And it is to say, unfortunately, that even those you might consider family could very well turn their backs on you. Always remember, יחד ננצח.

About the Author
Adi is an American-Israeli Jew born and raised in Queens, New York. Her studies and love for peoples and cultures led her to a life of traveling, making art, speaking to people, and collecting stories. After graduating with her degree in Cultural/Medical Anthropology, she moved to Israel with a full heart and keen ears.
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