Happy Thanksgiving from Israel

by Sarah Neal

Shalom Aleichem,

I had a strange realization as I was talking to my Dad on skype yesterday afternoon. I had NO IDEA that today is Thanksgiving in America. Isn’t that strange? I mean, I knew it was coming up. I just didn’t know it was TODAY. Have I been here so long that I don’t remember when American holidays are coming up? Last Thanksgiving I was in a weekend workshop/seminar in the north, but I remember thinking the whole weekend that I couldn’t believe that this was how I was spending my holiday. The year before I was in America. Bakersfield, California to be exact. I was visiting and getting ready to make alliyah. My roommate and neighbor are having a bonfire tomorrow night, so I guess I’ll call that Thanksgiving. =)

In the midst of everything that is going on around me I do have things to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my Israeli friends for giving me courage. Israelis are really courageous people. What we have to deal with as Jews, as Israelis, as Zionists… is unbearable. Where I feel weak, an Israeli gives me strength. Every mother at home every night while her husband is poised outside of Gaza and her children sleep in the other room is a hero to me. Every civilian raising money to send warm clothes and food to our soldiers is a hero to me. Every adult who grew up knowing the sounds of air raid sirens and what it is like to carry a gas mask to school.. every child now who watches their father suddenly board a bus and leave for some base somewhere… *sigh* You get my point. I’m thankful for Israelis. I’m thankful for my American Israeli friends who empathize with my pain and anxiety of hearing “CODE RED” over loud speakers. Their compassion is unmatched. We check on each other. We talk to each other. They are my support. I’m thankful for my American friends for showing me love. I can’t express how overwhelmed and grateful I am at the outpouring of love I’ve received from America. I’ve heard from people all over America expressing their solidarity with Israel, their prayers, their thoughts, their worry. I’m so grateful to feel that love in my life.

After much confusion, panic, courage, and determination I decided that I can’t put myself in lock down Tekoa so I went to Jerusalem. The scary part for me was the 12 minute ride in the car from Tekoa to Jerusalem. Once I was in town I could walk or take a bus or catch a ride with my Mom. The ride to Jerusalem was fast and quiet. Jerusalem felt quiet when I arrived as well. I took one bus and then walked the rest of the way to my appointment. I’m also thankful that I had an appointment with my therapist. I was finally able to get out some of the fears and anxieties that I’ve been feeling since the first siren went off on Friday. I had a very good cry and am feeling in MUCH better spirits. It also helped that directly afterwards my Mom and I went to see some friends who are visiting Israel from my hometown of Bakersfield, California. It’s refreshing to see people that I haven’t seen in years. It’s a connection between my life in America and my life in Israel. It’s such a drastic change that it’s sometimes hard for me to make the 2 worlds mesh together.

I’m still exhausted from many nights of restless sleep, but in case you’re wondering… there was a bus bombed in Tel Aviv this afternoon with no casualties. There is supposed to be a cease fire happening, but to my knowledge within the first hour we were fired on 12 times from Gaza. I’ve also heard of rockets in the north from Lebanon, but I don’t know if they made it over the border and what transpired from there.

As always… I’m thankful for those of you who could please continue to pray for Israel and our mighty IDF. Pray that we’re able to come to a quick resolution and peace… real peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sarah Neal

Tekoa- Gush Etzion, West Bank, Israel