Israel Jewish

Finding the answer to the question… How *am* I feeling?

For those of you starting here, I’ve spent the past 52 days, trying desperately to answer the question “how are you feeling?”. [Part 1] [Part 2]

I’ve been asked this question hundreds of times in the last 52 days, and I’ll be honest – most of the times I’ve lied;

“OK Thanks, it’s tough” or “Alright, it’s all I can be”… and on more than one occasion I’ve called in the infamous response of my late grandmother z”l: “with my hands mainly!”. But the truth is, since the 7th October, I’ve been feeling… different. Something within me has changed.

I’m confident that I can speak on behalf of almost the entire Jewish people and tell you that the last 52 days have been EXHAUSTING. They have been filled with a deep sadness, a mourning and a grief and yet also intermingled with tiny flecks of light.

I don’t think I can ever recall a time when the Jewish community has better come together as one – Religious, secular, Israel, Diaspora, it doesn’t matter where you are from or what your background is, we’re all in this together.

For the past 52 days, I’ve barely listened to ‘English’ music, and I know I’m not alone. (My Spotify unwrapped this year is going to be confused!) If you’d told me 6 months ago that I’d end the year listening to Avenu Shebashamayim (Prayer for the State of Israel) on repeat, or obsessing over a song in which, for days the only phrase I really knew was ‘There’s a million trains racing to Australia’, I’ve have said you were out of your mind… and yet here we are.

I’ve picked up the guitar a number of times, I’ve tried to play other things and yet all I can play is Achenu – a prayer for protecting and bringing home hostages.

Last Friday, I was distracted from work. Fixated on the cruel game of real life ‘Big Brother’ being played out whereby via what seems like random selection, hostages were released from the Gaza Strip by Hamas. I cried all Friday afternoon at my desk at home.

By the time the hostages had been released, and I found out that 3 of them were the family of a friend, I could do nothing but sob. Sob that some people were finally free, sob that one of my friend’s family still remained in Gaza, sob that the reactions on the internet were, and still are absolutely abhorrent, and most of all, sob for humanity and the cruel reality we’re living in.

Saturday night, again, I watched and I sobbed.

Sunday, However was different. On Sunday, I went to London with 105,000 other people – Jewish and not, and marched through the streets in protest at the rising level of antisemitism.

For the first time in 52 days, with the exception, perhaps of spending a few hours seeing Shulem, Alby Chait and Avromi Freilich in concert, I felt a sweet feeling of release, of calm, of warmth and of understanding.

I know I’m not alone feeling this – many have said the same thing. The march itself was quite a spectacle. The speeches, went on for FAR too long, but standing together at the end, singing Hatikvah, and God Save the King (still feels weird!) gave me tears, goosebumps and a feeling of the duality of my identity uniting as one.

At the end, we sang our hearts out – “Salaam Aleynu v’akol Haolam Saalam Shalom” – ‘Upon us and upon the world Peace, Peace’ – a song in both Hebrew and Arabic, before in an incredibly impromptu manner, dancing the Hora, in the middle of the road in Parliament Square.

The event ended and I felt elated, yet the minute I stepped outside of the barriers and headed to find my parents at the car, I felt an urgency to hide my Jewishness. Flags were folded and stuffed into pockets, Star of David necklace quickly placed inside my shirt, and banners/placards folded to be inconspicuous as I walked back through the streets of my city.

The walk back was short, though it felt incredibly long. I was second guessing every person, assessing every move, wondering about every motion. While totally uneventful, mentally the journey to the car alone was draining.

It made me think more than ever about my identity, about what it means to be a “British Jew” and for what it means to live as a real and unquestionable minority in a world full of many many others. Many others who are not like me.

Perhaps we’ve been too good as a people at assimilating. Perhaps, I imagine it’s why we often struggle with being accused of being both oppressor and oppressed – a subject David Baddiel covers in depth in the incredible ‘Jews Don’t Count’.

We’ve done great things, blended into spaces, done our best to try to fit in, and be “local”. We’re told we must respect the law of the land, and perhaps… just perhaps, we do it too well.

Maybe we’ve forgotten the warnings of our past. The warnings that no matter how assimilated we are, however much we try to ‘not be Jewish’ or ‘not look Jewish’, those who seek to kill us don’t care.
From the outside, even the potential for you to be Jewish, is enough to consider you a target – look no further than at the number of Thai nationals working on Kibbutzim who were killed or taken hostage by Hamas on October 7th.

As I slipped back into “British Life” on Monday, outside the warm, fuzzy, family like togetherness of Sunday’s march, I felt different. Conscious of my difference more than normal. Conscious of the fact that just the day before, I had been on the street in a protest to highlight the racism toward me, the ‘othering’ that has seen an exponential increase in the past 52 days, protesting my right as a BRITISH JEW to live harmoniously in this country that has been my family’s home for the past 3-4 generations.

I was protesting my right, to peace in the UK. I was protesting my right, to be Jewish. I was feeling angry. Angry that this is what we have had to do

But as the anger subsided, and the rational brain started to file away some of those short term, angsty feelings we all feel from time to time… something became clear.

I understood how was I feeling. I know how am I feeling now. The answer is simple:


The perpetual question that has bugged me for 52 days, has been answered.

And yet, I’m not sure why it took me so long to answer this question. Reading back, I answered it way back on October 15th:

“In the words of Vicki Baum: To be a Jew, is a destiny.


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