Every time I start to write a post about my day to day life acclimating to a new country and a new culture, I am jarred back to my current reality in the form of a "buzz." I want to write about my shabbat in a chareidi area and --"buzz." I have a funny story about my foray into Tel Aviv and-- "buzz, buzz." I mentioned earlier that I downloaded an app which alerts me to every rocket fired by Hamas toward Israel. When I first downloaded the app, the buzzes jarred me. My cousin and I would call out "Sderot. Ashkelon. Ashdod. Ashkelon..."
But soon the locations changed, the net widened. "Tel Aviv, Hadera, Jerusalem, Beersheba..." until no place was safe. Just today, "The Golan Heights?!" (Thanks for your help, Syria!) While leaving Beit Shemesh Saturday night, right before heading to the bus stop, two more sirens had me rethinking my journey back to Jerusalem. To risk being on a bus as rockets landed indiscriminately all over the country? Even me, in my indestructible new-immigrant fantasy world wasn't willing to chance that. So I stayed close to my friend's trusty apartment shelter and she made me a cheese toast to calm me down.
And so to the title of this post. Normally, when saying goodbye to a friend, some common goodbyes include "see you later, have a great day, call you soon." I, and most people I meet now, will end our interactions with "Stay safe!" That is not how I would ever fathom ending conversations in Queens, New York. The Bronx, New York? Maybe. But Queens? The Five Towns? The Upper West Side?! Nope.
I remember the fears I had before I made aliyah (even just reading old blog posts, I can laugh) where I was anxious about making friends, finding a job, navigating bureaucracy and tackling the language barrier. Now I think about whether I'll be in the shower when a siren goes off, how to help fight a losing media battle on Israel's behalf, and whether my mother will really, truly lose it with worry over me at some point soon. I worry that there will be no end to the rockets, that this life will become the new normal. I fear that the Iron Dome will prove fallible (G-d forbid), that tourism will stop and the economy will suffer. I worry that people will stop visiting me, stop visiting their home. I worry about people I know every time a rocket reaches a familiar address. I check in with friends in Tel Aviv, friends in Arad, in Haifa. I worry that my precious homeland is in danger.
But to be honest, I don't worry too much of the time. When the sirens sound and I am praying for our safety, I allow myself those moments of worry. I allow my mind to wander into darker places. But it never stays there long. Because, at the end of the day, I am a person of faith. I feel like I am lucky, to have a faith which constantly reminds me that "if He sees you to it, He'll see you through it." It is my faith that allows me to laugh off the fears of family and friends in the States. And it is that faith that realizes that while Israel has seen better days, she has also seen worse ones. And so when I say goodbye now, I always say "stay safe". Because even though we'll be just fine, it's still nice to be careful.