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The New, Not-So-Normal Israel, November 2023

Since the beginning of the Israel Gaza War 2023, many words and phrases aren’t used anymore or have changed their meaning. For example, throwaway lines like “this is the worst thing ever” (maybe referring to stubbing your toe or not finding your favorite cereal at the supermarket). We can’t say that anymore—we have seen and experienced “the worst thing ever.”

Another example is asking people how they are. Perhaps the question is really just a form of a greeting: “How are you?” No one is really asking how you are—if they are, then they ask in a different tone of voice and with more words. So, we try now to avoid asking, “How are you?” since the answer is very complicated. But if you are asked, saying “OK” or “fine” really isn’t the answer either.

Here is a list of daily occurrences that are now part of our new, not-so-normal situation:

Waze is no longer giving traffic reports or information about backups (because the IDF is using the roads and often blocks certain intersections or has a concentration of vehicles in one place), nor does Waze show other users.

Street singers are still performing for a few coins, but most are only singing sad, mellow songs.

The public service announcements on the radio and television are about mental health facilities open to the general public and other trauma-related issues.

Listening to the radio? Your favorite song is interrupted right in the middle of the best verse to report that there are sirens announcing a rocket attack or a mortar attack or that armed drones have entered Israeli airspace.

You want to go to the movies, just to get away from the news and sadness all around. But, alas, the entire ceiling of the lobby of the movie multiplex has posters of all 239 hostages.

The hourly news reports have been starting with which soldiers and civilians have been killed today, and what times the funerals all over the country are for others.

Since October 7, posthumous sperm retrieval has been performed on 39 murdered soldiers and civilians, so their wives can undergo IVF.

Many stores and restaurants are closed or have reduced their hours. People, even five weeks later, just aren’t that interested in going out as much as they used to—and Israelis loved going out.

So many people are out of work—mostly the hourly wage earners, who need the income desperately.

Everywhere you walk you see the pictures of the hostages—on trees and telephone poles, on big LED screens, projected onto the tallest buildings. These are our friends and family.

Dozens of new schools have opened in the last few weeks—all temporary (whatever that word means during wartime), in order to get the kids who have been displaced from their homes back to school, even if it is just a few hours a day.

The universities in Israel haven’t opened yet for the fall semester because too many students and staff are in active reserves, fighting in Gaza.

There is a meme going around, created by Liya Horn, that is a play on words in Hebrew. The Palestinian Hamas terrorist attacks took place on the seventh of October. In Hebrew, seven is “shiva,” the same word used for the seven-day mourning period after someone dies. The meme says, “I can’t get up from the shiva of October”—none of us can. Am Yisrael Chai—The People of Israel Live!

Arnie Draiman is a philanthropic consultant helping people and foundations give their tzedaka money away wisely, efficiently, and effectively. He is also an experienced social media and website guru, and reviews restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. He can be reached at [email protected] or www.draimanconsulting.com.

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