I classify myself as a Jerusalemite. My friends can attest: I have an obsession with Jerusalem. Any time of the day, any day of the week, any week of the month, and any month of the year, I would rather be in Jerusalem than any other place in the world. While my roommate may not see it on my face in the morning, I wake up elated to know that I am blessed to be alive another day, living in the Old City of Jerusalem. As a matter of fact, I typically spend my weekends in my apartment in Jerusalem. The spirituality of Jerusalem has put me on a high so great, even the thought of falling off makes me uneasy.
However, the story goes a little further: I happen to not be such a big fan of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are two totally different places; quite frankly, they are different worlds in their own rights. Whereas Tel Aviv is more modern, Jerusalem feels more authentic and uniform. While I understand the fanfare around Tel Aviv, I just do not typically associate with the city itself. I admire her technological might, her history, and her Western values - I simply do so from a distance. Yet it was this past Friday evening, only a few minutes before the Sabbath was set to start, that I found my heart wandering to and longing for Tel Aviv.
Just as I was about ready to turn off my phone to prepare for Shabbat, I received a notification on my phone of a shooting on Dizengoff Street, a street almost always full with Israelis and tourists. After looking around for more information I realized that I, in fact, even had a few loved ones who happened to be staying no more than a few blocks away from the scene of the shooting. After confirming their whereabouts and subsequently their safety, I felt something strange come about me, something I have never felt in my life before: I missed Tel Aviv.
I did not long for Tel Aviv because of her warm and beautiful beaches, always full of life no matter the time of year. I did not miss Tel Aviv because of the historical value of the city, a historical value I am amazed by and appreciative of. I did not yearn for her Westernized culture, her nightlife, or even her diversity.
I ached for Tel Aviv because at that moment in time, Tel Aviv was demoralized. Her peace had been shattered like glass; dreams popped like fragile balloons. Her citizens were overcome with fear, cafe's windows were shuttered. The city was almost completely paralyzed with fear.
I sympathized with Tel Aviv.
Now, this is not Tel Aviv's first terror attack; Tel Aviv has seen its fair share of terrorism. I, however, feel as though it is time to let Tel Aviv know that while Jerusalem and Tel Aviv may seemingly stand on two different spots in the country - ideologically, geographically, spiritually, technologically, politically, - now, we must stand as one. We must stand as a single united front against terror, no matter the great differences between our two cities.
It is January; I moved to Jerusalem, Israel, on August 17, 2015. I have been in Jerusalem for tens, if not hundreds of terror attacks, the murdering of many Israelis, and the injuring of hundreds. I have been all of 5 minutes removed from a stabbing, and it scares me to think of what could have matured into a terror attack, but, for one reason or another, failed to.
And ever since the attack right before Shabbat, I have sympathized with the pain of Tel Aviv because we here in Jerusalem know all too well the pain which terror evokes.
Tel Aviv, we too know how it feels to be on lockdown; we too know how it feels to be constantly looking over our shoulders; we too know how it feels to see the fear on the faces of innocent people walking through the streets.
We Jerusalemites know it all too well. We share in your pain.
Our struggle is no more worse than yours; an injury is an injury, and a death is a death. To prioritize one cities struggles over the other is wrong. It is only fair to realize and underscore that now, however, we have come to the time to struggle together.
Tel Aviv: do not allow yourselves to be apprehensive. Fear is a consuming poison, one which can debilitate and, in due course, paralyze. Understand that even when things may look gloom and cloudy, the sun is always shining somewhere.
For now, Tel Aviv, you have my heart.
We in Jerusalem stand as one with you.