Johanna Rose

My View from the Ground: Life in Tel Aviv

Didn't know this was a feature of the app

Today in Tel Aviv, if you didn’t watch the news, you might not know there’s a war raging.

I went rowing this morning on the water. Even ventured to the end of the river to take in the beautiful spot where the river flows into the Mediterranean Sea. We’ve had no sirens today (so far, at least). I’m back to working a normal schedule.

And yet, life is not at all normal.

As I row, I am hyperaware of how far the next bridge is in case the siren goes off and we need to take cover. I jump when a motorcycle revs its engine that sounds like the whine of the red alert. Every commercial on tv ends with “together we will succeed.”

News alerts pop up on my phone of horrors still being discovered. Today, a 23-year old German-Israeli hostage was found. Correction, her head was found. No words.

In many of Israel’s cities, schools are alternating between in-person class and zoom to ensure that there is enough shelter for the number of students on campus. In Tel Aviv, school runs for ½ day so that the evacuees from the Southern and Northern part of the country have classes and activities during the second ½ of the day.

Did you know that today, there are 200,000 INTERNAL REFUGEES in Israel who cannot live in their homes due to security risks of rockets, drone attacks, and cross boarder terrorist incursions? They are put up in hotels, they have no jobs, and some don’t have homes to return to since entire kibbutzim were torched.

Did you know that on October 7th, the foreign caregivers stayed to protect their elderly charges rather than run away even though it meant certain death? Eighteen Thai field hands who worked the southern farms have been killed and 11 are being held hostage. As a result, 5,000 have been evacuated from the area leaving a need for thousands of volunteers to harvest produce, sow the next crops, and milk the cows so that the agricultural sector doesn’t collapse.

I had a routine doctor’s appointment today. Take a look at the screen shot of Google Maps. How many bomb shelters are noted between my house and the 9-minute bike ride? I didn’t even know that was a feature of the app.

Right before leaving for the appointment, news flashed on my phone that a female soldier who was held hostage had been rescued. Miraculous.

Upon arriving at the doctor’s office, the receptionist greeted me with that report and we reveled together for a brief moment in that glimmer of hope.

I was wrong. Even with more restaurants opening, even with mundane routine seeping back in, and even without a constant stream of news, we do know there’s a war going on.

UPDATE: Just as I was finishing this post, the siren went off.

About the Author
Johanna made aliyah with her husband and golden retriever during Covid in November 2020. In moving to Israel she is living the dream she has had as a virulent Zionist: 4th of 5 generations of Hadassah life members, a former AIPAC Area Director, and pro-Israel political activist.
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