This past week, I reached out to our 2015 graduates who are spending a gap year in Israel to let them know we’re thinking of them and to find out how they are doing with the security situation in Israel.  Below are excerpts from a few responses:

It seems a lot scarier to people back home, but when you’re here and you see how much security is around you just stick to safe, non-public places and you’re good.

-Tami Poliwada, BBYO

With all that being said, I am proud knowing that I came to this country willing to experience it in any condition. I still take the bus, go to the beach, the mall, and meet up with friends, only now I have to be more conscious of my surroundings. It’s truly incredible how in light of all recent events, Israeli society comes together and life still goes on.

-Liel Cohn, Kol Ami, a “mechina” with Israelis, Australians and several Americans

As much as the situation has made certain aspects of my life here more difficult, it has also opened me up to the resilience and incredible adaptability of Israeli society. Israel is a beautiful place with so much to offer and I feel so fortunate to be here even in this time.

-Samara Gottesman, Nativ

Of course the situation has been scary at times. Of course questions of a third intafada, or where I am allowed to walk during the day has made me question why I’m here, and if it’s actually safe. But to be honest I’m here because I’m a Jew and I care about my country and I want to do everything in my power to learn, experience, and grow from this year before having to go to school.

-Geoffrey Handelman, Nativ

But would I ever consider going home? Definitely not. I am so proud of Israel for being so strong in such a difficult time, and I am confident in its ability to do whatever possible to protect its people. Being here, whether on a program like mine or like the one you are considering going on soon, is a testament to Israel’s resilience and confidence in itself to protect the Jewish people and be their homeland always. Life does truly go on here, and what I always tell myself is that one cannot live life in fear. We as a people have endured many hardships and great adversity, but we will always be here to go on, stand up for what we believe in, and stay proud of who we are.

-Max Librach, Nativ

My advice to the students who are going on the (November robotics) trip is the following: Israel is extremely safe.  It’s the Jewish home, and it needs your support more than ever in this time of unrest. The best way for you to support Israel is by being here, helping the economy, and showing other Israelis that the Jewish community in Canada cares about them.

-Max Charlat, Lev HaTorah

In the Diaspora one should interrupt their life to keep updated on the situation. In Israel, one must live as if there were nothing happening.

-Aaron Propp, in the name of his Tanach teacher at Eretz Hatzevi

My thoughts on the situation is that while it is scary that there are attacks everyday in unpredictable places, it is essential that we continue to live our lives and stay strong as a people. The objection of the terrorists is for Jews to run away from Israel. For this reason I think it is essential that we keep our heads high and not give in to their evil tactics.

-Tal Bibla, Lev HaTorah

One last piece of advice for everyone back home:  Check the news 1 or 2 times a day, not constantly. The news is a business, and they will publish anything they think is newsworthy.

-Noah Guttmann, Torah V’Avodah

I think it would be good for the students to come at a time like this to really see Israel for what it is. Israel isn’t just a place with beaches and great food. Israel exists because people choose to stay and live here. If everyone ran away when there was an incident in Israel, the Jews would not have Israel today.

-Frankie Aviv, Midreshet HaRova

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