A Message from our UJA Shinshinit Talya Rivel
Beth Tzedec
Oct 19th 2023

UJA ShinShinim are young Israeli leaders who have just finished high school and who come to the GTA for one year to volunteer in our community. They are hosted by local Toronto families and engage more than 12,000 Jewish community members each year with cutting-edge programs focusing on contemporary Israel.

I honestly don’t know where to start, so I'll just start from the beginning.

I’m 18 years old. I live in Mazkeret Batya which is a small town, 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv. Not long ago I decided to do a gap-year, to defer my army service and come here to Toronto to bring Israel to you guys, as well as learn about Jewish life outside of Israel. I never thought, not even in my worst dreams, that Israel, my homeland, would be at war while I was here. A war that has never been seen before.

After a whole week of watching the news nonstop and feeling bad that I was not there helping, I decided that I was sick and tired of doing that. I’m sick and tired of talking about this situation, talking about it so much that it became my new reality. I refuse to believe that it is, and that is why I won't. So, I’m not going to talk about the fact that my cousins are now fighting in the army, and I have no idea what’s going on with them. I’m not going to talk about the fact that there are so many people missing and that it’s actually insane. I’m not going to talk about the fact that for the first time in years, my hometown has gotten bomb damage. And I’m not going to talk about the fact that I'm so far away from all of my friends and family, that I can’t give out any hugs to the ones who need them or receive one myself.

So, I decided that today I am going to talk about the fact that I miss the beach. I miss going to see the most beautiful sunsets on my favorite beach in Kibbutz Palmachim. I miss feeling the delicate wind in my face, and the warm sand on my feet. I miss going to Mimi Cafe with my best friends, talking and laughing until the waiters tell us it’s time to close the restaurant, and we need to get out. I miss driving with my dad, without a specific destination ahead, just blasting music coming from the speakers. I miss Friday morning, when all my family goes together to Tel Aviv to grab a cup of coffee and catch up, then walk along the beach and see everyone getting in their workouts before they start to prepare for Shabbat dinner. I miss normal life.

I truly believe that we will win this together. I truly believe that this situation won’t replace the life I once had before the war. We will go back to normal. It’s going to be okay. Please, stay strong and united. Text your friends and family that live in Israel. It will mean so much to them.

I hope that the next time I talk to you guys I’ll talk about me being a competitive dancer for 12 years or something like that.

Thank you so much and Shabbat Shalom,