The Friday before last my niece tied the knot.
The wedding took place in Caesarea, a 50-minute drive from Tel Aviv. Unlike many brides, who like to make a grand entrance, my niece proved to be a gracious bride, welcoming all her guests at the entrance with huge smiles and hugs.
The alcohol was upscale and there was lots of it. The food was delicious. I looked my best (there’s a photo of me at the bottom of this email, so you can judge for yourself), and had the best time with my family and friends.
Less than 24 hours later, Hamas launched its atrocious assault on Israel, targeting not only military bases but also civilians in more than 15 cities and villages across the southern border with Gaza. Within a few hours, news of casualties poured in, hitting fast and very close to home.
Tom, my best friend’s cousin, was killed in Kissufim as he held the shelter door just long enough for his wife and three daughters to escape. Adam, the son of Ronit, my scene reader (she gives enlightening comments on all my spicy scenes) fought alongside 22 female soldiers. He was critically wounded and is now in a coma.
Omri, my son's best friend, fell while trying to free hostages in Be'eri. My husband and I went with our son to the funeral, and just hours later, he received his “Tzav 8” - an emergency call for service. He's now stationed in the North, preparing for a possible second front with another terrorist organization, Hizballah.
This newsletter is written partially from my house’s shelter. I come down here several times a day.
The writer and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel wrote:
'Never again' becomes more than a slogan: It's a prayer, a promise, a vow... never again the glorification of base, ugly, dark violence.
Yet here we are, and there’s no end in sight.
I’m filled with grief about the young girls abducted to Gaza. Knowing that just thinking about it will make me lose my mind, I get angry: at my stupid, chauvinistic, horrible, utterly corrupt, and useless government. It’s followed by frustration by my own helplessness.
Grief, anger, frustration, in a never-ending loop, which isn't very productive. So, I choose to function - taking care of my sick parents, putting on a brave face for my children who need solace, and collecting clothes and toys for the Israeli refugees.
Amidst all of this - should I keep on writing?
It was a question I asked myself from the very beginning.
Is it okay to put time and effort into this newsletter? Isn’t it incredibly insensitive of me to keep on working on my frivolous romances when so many are suffering around me?
For me, the answers are surprisingly simple. In this, I’m being completely selfish. I write for myself. For my sanity.
Writing to you, welcoming you to Tel Aviv. Even this version of my city - it keeps me going. Thank you for reading my words.
I try not to miss meeting my regular Zoom sessions with other authors. My friends know this is a safe space, so they don’t raise questions to which I have no answers. We talk of problems in plotting and shaping believable characters.
I’m currently at the editing stage of my third book - a steamy contemporary romance about a couple that falls in love on a peaceful Tel Aviv beach. My main guy is hot and tattooed and teaches my main lady to paddleboard. They overcome challenges to be together, plus catch the bad guy to boot. It’s all pretty lighthearted, and there’s a Happy Ever After.
It happens in my city, in an alternate reality, which to me is still very real.
As promised, here's a picture from the very recent past. This is me, all dressed up at my niece's wedding, standing under a vine laden with ripe grapes.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, I still hope peace will come, in our days.
The groom enlisted the following day - he is an Iron Dome operator (i.e., most likely will be fine).