Today, I finally bought a ticket to visit my family abroad in the middle of December. I was reluctant to make plans, but there is a hostage ceasefire deal going into effect tomorrow, Thursday, at 10 am. This means that I am hopeful that with the return of the hostages from Gaza, things will improve in Israel. Perhaps by mid-December, the reserve soldiers will be able to go back home to resume regular life, and at the restaurant, we won’t have to send more than 1500 vegan meals to soldiers each day.
A friend asked why I decided to go away for only ten days. The truth is that it doesn’t feel right to be away from Israel at a time like this. Being here, surrounded by so many good people who keep volunteering and doing good day after day, helps me deal with the grief. It seems that after the sheer evil that we experienced on October 7th, we really needed to restore belief in goodness and humanity. The good will and kindness that I encounter in the restaurant cheer me up and give me hope.
Every day, I greet a group of volunteers who come to work and are ready to do everything and anything: to wash dishes in the kitchen, to peel onions, to wash and clean the floors, and of course, to pack hundreds of meals. Then there are the volunteer drivers: some of them have been doing these rounds for more than a month now, driving long hours each day. They are always smiling and wait patiently for the boxes to be ready.
The other day, it rained incessantly in Tel Aviv. As the restaurant is tiny, we always work outside. When it started to rain, we had to push everything close by and crowded together to continue working. We were lucky: nothing got too wet, and we even completed the orders on time.
If someone had told me years ago that I would choose to be in Israel during such a hard time, I wouldn’t have believed it. I was born in this country, and always took it for granted. Living for many years in the US made me appreciate the importance of having my own country, a place I can always return to. In my worst nightmares, I never imagined that something like October 7th was possible. But I know now that I cannot afford to take Israel for granted ever again.