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Staying at home

נגה אשכנזי מעלי זהב

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])

I received permission to publish the following post that appeared in a women’s WhatsApp group. The members of this group are residents of Alei Zahav, a community in northwest Samaria. Noga Ashkenazi wrote to her neighbors as follows.

“Not everyone here knows who I am: a convert to Judaism. We moved to this community a year ago. 7 years ago, I came to Israel from Germany, where I grew up, and I had never experienced war up until now.

I will be very candid with you: As Shabbat was ending on Simchat Torah and on the day that followed, I had no idea how to cope with what happened. My first thought was to leave everything and fly back together with my children to my parents in Germany. My family there had already prepared for our arrival.

But when I saw the messages coming from the strong women that you are, how you are investing all your efforts to help in the war effort on all fronts, in every possible way, I was so impressed. I was amazed to witness the power of our nation. And your strength only increased from day to day.

So I changed my plans. Not to run away, not to leave, because I am part of all of this. After all, I am a Jew. This is who I chose to be and this is the vow that I took at the time of my conversion before the rabbis or, to be precise, before God. Germany is no longer my home. I am not a German, I am a Jew and this is the place in the world where I belong.

I am not leaving. To the contrary, I feel more at home than ever and I have become even more Jewish. So I want to thank all of you for giving me strength. My family in Germany does not understand my choice but I cannot blame them. You don’t know what it means to be a part of the Jewish nation until you share its destiny with every cell in your body. With these words I hope to give back to you — my valiant neighbors — and to strengthen you as well.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.”


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