Andrea Simantov
Living Out Loud


Only outsiders ask us “How are you doing?” and pray we don’t answer. Because that answer is murky and bleak and spotty.  

This isn’t to say that we don’t ask the aforementioned question of one another, already knowing the murky, bleak and spotty truth. We’re holding on. We’re so weary. Surprised that there are any tears left. And fatigued from a lack of trust.  Feeling so shaky and isolated because many of those whom we considered to be friends have hardened their hearts and withdrawn all empathy. We grasp for straws of compassion and our hands come back empty.

If the unbridled slaughter of farmers, dancers, moms, dads, students, lay-folk, professionals and babies on October 7 was all that had happened, perhaps we’d say dayenu. If the kidnapping of more than 252 Israelis, foreigners, young, old, male, female, infants was all that had happened, perhaps we’d say dayenu. If our holy soldiers fell in battle both above ground and below, within an inconceivable network of tunnels, booby trapped hospitals and nursery schools, perhaps we’d say dayenu. Huddling in my building’s ancient bomb shelter on a Saturday night with neighbors, we listened to the intercepting of 170 drones and 150 cruise and ballistic missiles that were lobbed at us from Iran. Dayenu? Nah. That’s a song which hovers over the seder table. 

Upon returning from America at the tail end of Passover, I couldn’t catch my breath.  The virulent Jew-hatred which peppered nearly every moment of my US visit was crippling. Ill-informed imbeciles had hijacked more than the campuses; they’d seized control of independent thought. Slogan-spewing lemmings had wrested all semblance of intellect and people cowered. If the protestors were just embarrassingly ignorant and practitioners of selective morality, it might have been humorous. But no one is laughing. The danger is real and it isn’t over. Here in Israel, our enemy neighbors are familiar to me – as cousins typically are — and we dance about one another cautiously while respectively raising our families and murmuring platitudes about an eventual peace. We no longer delude ourselves.     

I haven’t been shy in sharing my perspectives on what is happening in the Jewish world and use my platforms with gusto: podcast, social media, magazine articles, speaking engagements. Not everyone agrees with my POV and I’ve enjoyed some healthy debates. After Passover, however, my Facebook messenger was filled with ugly, hate-filled messages. Most of these notes repeated time-worn antisemitic slurs and threatened me and my children. I can’t lie; it was terrifying.

My husband read me the Riot Act at the Shabbos table as I whimpered, ‘Why do I need to do this? I’m going to quit. I’m so frightened.’

“This is what terror is,” Ronney explained. “That is how terror works. You are feeling vulnerable and powerless and that is how they win.”

Eden Golan reminded me of what Jewish strength looks like. The beautiful 20 year old singer represented Israel in the 2024 Eurovision contest, held this year in Malmo, Sweden. The competition is supposed to be void of political agendas but this year’s only agenda was, seemingly, genocidal-Israel and the outrage of having Zionists in their pristine midst. Security guards and police created barricades around the arena for an entire week as crowds surged forward, screaming for Jewish blood. Eden sat with her crew and a few die-hard fans throughout the preparatory week, enduring snubs and insults. This class-act chose to forgo appearing in the opening ceremony and, instead, attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony with members of the Malmo Jewish community. Needless to say, she was not invited to any Eurovision parties and celebrations.

And despite calls for her removal and near-deafening hazing from the crowds, the girl sang “Hurricane,” a gossamer-veiled commemoration of the Simchat Torah massacre. The song had originally been called “October Rain” but the overseeing committee deemed this to be offensively political and it was changed. 

She was majestic. In an interview immediately after her soul-searing performance, she said, “Every ‘boo,’ every hate-filled jeer strengthened me to do my best for our amazing people, our brave soldiers, and our beautiful country. Am Yisrael Chai!”  

How are we doing? It’s hard, but we have choices. We can buckle and bend, or ascend and sing. The fight for Jewish survival continues and for those of us who are sitting on the front row of unfolding Jewish history, I confess: The chairs are shaking.  

Sometimes we need to turn off the news, silence the blather, and listen to the holiness that pulses within our communal heart. Faith is hard to come by but I know with every fiber of my being that we will not be abandoned. In time – please, God, let it be soon – we will rise above the fray and soar.   

(Reprinted with permission of San Diego Jewish Journal, June, 2024)

About the Author
New York-born Andrea Simantov moved to Jerusalem in 1995. Writer, podcast host (, life-coach and image consultant. She is spiritual, funny, cries easily (laughs harder), enjoys caravanning, celebrating her Jewishness and is always up for her next big adventure. With six children, 22 grandchildren and a mostly tolerant husband, life is busy, passionate and always evolving.
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