A lot of people told me that they felt an inexplicable connection to Israel the second they got off the plane. I wasn’t really sure what they meant, but when I got to Tel Aviv I could finally appreciate what they were trying to say. Im not exactly sure what it is about Israel that is so alluring. Maybe its the cultural and religious connection, the immense beauty of the area, or the warm open people that you come across there, but it is definitely something that is hard to describe. I wish I had gotten a chance to explore some of Israel, but I guess you could say that my trip was a truly “local experience”. On my first day there, my friend was working the whole day and night, so I spent my time exploring alone. Normally that would make me feel a little nervous, but anytime I was lost or confused someone would help me out and even walk me to where I needed to go. I explored the Shuk Ha Caramel, and then took a tour of Jaffo. That was my last normal night. The next day Hamas began bombing. The first siren that I heard in Tel Aviv went off when I was alone at my friends apartment. At first I thought I was hearing things, but then I realized what was happening and I quickly got my shoes and ran to the stairwell to wait until the end of the alarm. You always hear two bombs. The first is the rocket, the second is the iron dome intercepting the rocket and bringing them down. I was in complete shock. I was shaking like a leaf when my friends roommate came home. The second she walked in she gave me a huge hug and I began to feel a lot better. After that, you weirdly get used to the sirens. For the remainder of the trip the sirens were going off at least twice a day.
I spent a lot of time indoors so we could have easy access to a bomb shelter, and I kind of felt trapped. Needless to say, it wasn’t the trip I had planned in my mind. Despite that, I met some wonderful people, had a life changing experience (really made me value being alive), and fell in love with Israel. On the night I left, Hamas released a statement saying they would be sending multiple rockets into Tel Aviv at 9 pm. I was visiting a friends place that night, so we ended up staying there for a while since he has a bomb shelter. I was on the porch watching to see if any rockets were being shot down, when I heard the siren. I thought that it was a siren for a different city because it seemed so quite, until I heard a huge bomb go off near the apartment. The weird thing was, I didn’t even feel scared. I went inside, sat in the bomb shelter and waited for things to cool off. Its amazing how fast you can learn to control your fear if you are constantly faced with it. I feel like I have walked away from this experience with more confidence, strength and courage. I hope the next time I get to Israel it is during more peaceful times, but I have no regrets about going. Until then, ill keep Israel in my mind and my heart. See you soon.