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Laurel Herman
Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, Ancestral Foods

Notes from the Alternate Universe

I feel like I’m living in an alternate universe. I’m sure many of us do. It is over six months now from October 7th. This is just my account of what this feels like. I can only speak for myself.

England. I used to live in England when my kids were little. It was a charming time of discovery, making lifelong friends, sending the kids to British School, and joining a small but very sweet Jewish community in South Bucks. One of my friends who is not Jewish writes to me ” this is the not the same England you remember.” She went on to tell me about the marches in London on Saturdays. I  follow the news directly from folks over there and in Israel, so I can see what is going on. I message another Jewish friend and ask how her family is coping in England and she had no idea what I was talking about. So I mention it and still no… so I get quiet. Not everybody follows what’s going on. How could they not?

Germany. I stay in touch with my dear German friend Elke, whom I met in England ,now living back in Germany. Last year or two she started telling me about how Islamist immigrants where stabbing people in trains, and raping German girls with no consequences. I took it with a grain of salt. I didn’t take it seriously, I am embarrassed to admit this. I used to be ” woke” to a degree, but I had questions. October 7 told me all I need to know. Yesterday she messaged me for my birthday, ” It is no longer safe for Jews in Germany” Or for that matter, Germans. She is telling the truth.

Ireland. I have an online Irish friend. I don’t know where he stands , so far he’s been supportive, but  I can sense not always comfortable.  Ireland is not pro Israel in any stretch of the imagination. Tonight he asked me what was going on. So I told him, and called out his country for its antisemitism.  I have no idea what his response will be. I’m just tired of holding it in and pretending that I and we are ok.

Here in the US. I have been following the college protests. Last night it came to a head in Richmond. People were arrested. I’m happy about that. But I came across an Instagram story from a former co worker, bemoaning how ” free speech”‘ was violated.  I’m sure a lot of us have hit a dividing line with who is not for us is against us.  I have been there for six months. Why does it still feel like a gut punch? Why ? Does she not know the meaning of Intifada? Or recognize what happened on October 7th? She has children who sleep safely in their beds at night, who are well loved. I have to wonder, how would she feel if her children were burned alive, or taken hostage? The hostages to these people are a non entity, barely a footnote, in recent history.

Social Media, Reading, Listening and Learning. I have immersed myself in the books, interviews and debates of Douglas Murray, Sam Harris, Mosab Yousef and others. Thank G-d for many of the Jewish influencers on social media. I’d rather get what’s up directly from Israel.  I am news obsessed, which I realize, many aren’t. So when I  read a dumb comment, often times I am tempted to correct them. But they are not listening. Its hard to know who I can talk to. Even some close family members feel ” uncomfortable” when I bring it up. Friends? mostly Christians as a matter of  fact, only Christians who have a sympathetic and supportive ear, I can talk to those friends.  I am living in an alternate universe, watching this ” thing” called Islamist jihad against the West unfold before my eyes.  I  can’t be alone in this bad dream. So I call you, my friend that is either Jewish or who gets it, at least I know I am in good company. Do you feel that way too?

About the Author
Laurel Herman is a Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine practitioner, residing in Richmond, Virginia. A classically trained chef in the European style( Thames Valley University, London, U.K. and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition) Her style is anything but classic, its fun, and relaxed. Laurel's passion is bringing people together through food goes back to growing up in a home which welcomed everyone. She has taught at various venues throughout the Richmond area. Now retired, but never from the love of food, active on Instagram Laurel also loves doing her podcast Chai talk with Laurel on Spotify. Her books, The Blissed Out Chef was published in 2015 and the Inner Kitchen, Balboa press in 2011.
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