Interesting and Scary Times in Israel
We are more than two months into our six-month sabbatical in Israel and enjoying it very much. Unlike the snowbirds in a warm place, being in Israel has a special feeling and exposes us to real day-to-day life in the Jewish homeland. On the recreational side, we get to know and enjoy life in Tel Aviv, one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Living 400 meters from the amazing beach boardwalk (the tayelet) and 300 meters from Dizengoff is very special. Listening to the Megillah reading in one of the many hidden synagogues with a group of Jews from around the world and locals was very special. Hiking in the Negev and exploring by foot Tel Aviv, to name a few activities, was also unique.
What makes it interesting and scary is the political and security situation. We have been exposed to both in a real and tangible way. The Saturday evening demonstration in support of democracy has become a routine for us. Marching with thousands of Israelis chanting DEMOCRATIA (democracy) and BUSHAH (shame) makes us feel proud of how so many people care about the future of this country. We participate regularly because we as diaspora Jews care so much about the future of this country. Our experiences with these demonstrations are that they are very peaceful and unusually polite.
The second experience was not so peaceful. Just 300 meters from our apartment at Dizengoff and Ben Gurion, on Thursday night March 9th, there was an attack by an armed Palestinian that left three people wounded, one of them still fighting for his life. The Saturday night before this attack we had dined at that exact restaurant where it all happened. The night before, we ate at a restaurant 50 metres from there. We walk by the place daily. At the time of the incident, we could see from our balcony people running away from the intersection.
Unfortunately, an event like that is treated like a traffic accident, and within a few hours, everything returns to “normal”. We walked by on Friday morning and the same restaurant was open with people dining there. Dizengoff St. was full of people enjoying their weekend.
As long as we are in Israel, and as long as the Protests continue, we will continue our weekly attendance/participation. We feel it is our obligation. The future of Israel matters so much, not only to the citizens of Israel but also to the Jews in the Diaspora.
Israel Ben-Ishai and Rhonda Wilansky