This piece is one of an ongo­ing series that we will be shar­ing in the com­ing days from Israeli authors and authors in Israel.

It is crit­i­cal to under­stand his­to­ry not just through the books that will be writ­ten lat­er, but also through the first-hand tes­ti­monies and real-time account­ing of events as they occur. At Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, we under­stand the val­ue of these writ­ten tes­ti­mo­ni­als and of shar­ing these indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ences. It’s more impor­tant now than ever to give space to these voic­es and narratives.

Sun­day, Octo­ber 8: my fifty-third birth­day. Tzi­po­ra (age thir­teen) says to me, don’t wor­ry, Ima. I think your fifty-fourth birth­day will be a good one. There is no news on Aner Shapi­ra or Hersh Gold­berg-Polin, the two boys from our com­mu­ni­ty who dis­ap­peared at the rave in the south. Hersh’s par­ents have been friends of mine for decades, since we went to high school in Chica­go togeth­er. Aner’s sis­ter is the close friend of Priya, my nine­teen-year-old. But there is no news, just more and more reports of miss­ing peo­ple, accom­pa­nied by pho­tos of faces and phone num­bers. The phone num­bers belong most­ly to sib­lings. Young them­selves, they are more con­nect­ed to social media than their par­ents. They are search­ing, search­ing, for any­one who saw their miss­ing loved ones any time since ear­ly Sat­ur­day morn­ing when it seems that every last cell phone in the world lost contact. 

The What­sApp pings don’t stop. Most­ly from my syn­a­gogue com­mu­ni­ty, where the group chat has turned into one large post­ing ground for calls for help: for sol­diers, for com­mu­ni­ties uproot­ed from the south. (Unrecord­ed — the silent, con­stant sup­port for the two fam­i­lies with miss­ing chil­dren.) I col­lect unopened toi­letries from the clos­et, grab Hebrew books and games for kids with­out my usu­al hes­i­ta­tion (which books can I part with?), toss them into two large shop­ping bags. I meet my friend Diane on the cor­ner, and we car­ry the bags across the street to the court­yard of an apart­ment build­ing. Three old­er teenagers are orga­niz­ing what appear to be already hun­dreds of drop-offs. 

At home, Tzi­po­ra and a friend have gone over to B’nei Aki­va, the youth move­ment on our street cor­ner, where they are pack­ing box­es for sol­diers, fill­ing them with food that con­tin­ues to be dropped off, and cards the kids are mak­ing. Tzi­po­ra hasn’t gone to B’nai Aki­va in at least two years, and in gen­er­al, she isn’t a join­er. On a nor­mal day, this would be enough to stop me in my tracks. Lat­er, she makes me smile when she tells me that a young boy asked her how to spell some­thing for the card he is mak­ing, but she is dyslex­ic, so togeth­er they decide spelling doesn’t mat­ter. Priya, nine­teen, rests curled up on her bed, in advance of return to her army base in the south. All the wor­ries of the week­end – what assign­ment will she get at the end of her train­ing course? How will she do on the pre­sen­ta­tion she needs to give in front of 130 oth­er sol­diers? – all those wor­ries have reced­ed. Shai, six­teen, is at Tzofim (Scouts), his sec­ond home, load­ing heavy car­tons, going back and forth with his friend who is old enough to dri­ve. They fill the car, then dri­ve to a near­by neigh­bor­hood where emer­gency work­ers unload it. 

We decide to have an ear­ly din­ner with the fam­i­ly of Nomi, my old­est friend in Jerusalem, minus her two kids in the army, and my vis­it­ing friend, Diane. I have known them both since I was ten. Diane goes shop­ping for some things, lat­er I see she has stocked my fridge for me, sur­rep­ti­tious­ly. She makes tajine and rice. We open a bot­tle of wine. There is a home­made card for my birth­day. Priya’s friend made her rugelach to take back to the base but she turns them into my cake. Along with some small choco­late souf­fles that Nomi’s youngest makes from a mix with Diane. When we walk home in the dark, the streets are empty.

Before Priya goes to sleep, she packs up all her things. She show­ers, climbs into bed, with clean sheets, clean hair, clean body. I sit beside her in the dark. I say, I’m just going to sit here for a few min­utes.” After some time, a lit­tle talk about what awaits her at the base, the ques­tions as to what sol­diers train­ing for the Edu­ca­tion Corps can pos­si­bly do in this nation­al dis­as­ter, she says qui­et­ly: I’m scared that Hersh and Aner are dead.” And sud­den­ly she is a child again, speak­ing in the sim­plest syn­tax: I’m scared that.” 

I say, I know. Me too.” 

I stroke her arm, I tell her it’s impor­tant to take care of her­self, that we are here and we love her, that she can call any time. I kiss her goodnight.

Mon­day: In the morn­ing, I take Priya to the train. She doesn’t want to eat. The streets are absolute­ly emp­ty. I can dri­ve right up to the cor­ner of the cen­tral train sta­tion. At any oth­er time, what I’m doing would be attend­ed with crazy honk­ing from all direc­tions. I stop the car and wait for her to get out, with­out any cars approach­ing, only anoth­er sol­dier on the street cor­ner who watch­es while I take a pho­to of her back, as she cross­es the huge street. Large back­pack. Army boots. The girl she grew up with in Ann Arbor has writ­ten to her ten years lat­er, to send love. From college.

I drop Shai at a near­by com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter with his friend. Kids there have par­ents who are doc­tors, work­ing at hos­pi­tals, called up or cov­er­ing for doc­tors who are called up. I don’t expect to see him until evening. He’s at an age where he and his friends will direct them­selves. Lat­er, I see a pho­to of him his father has post­ed on Face­book, hold­ing up a pup­pet or stuffed ani­mal in front of lots of kids sit­ting on the floor. He looks so tall to me. He was the child on the rug only recently.

The pings don’t stop. But no news on Aner or Hersh. No news. I text Hersh’s par­ents a short line each. I don’t tell them that I sim­ply can­not stop think­ing about them, that I couldn’t sleep most of the night, think­ing about Hersh. I say only, With you. Praying.”

What­sApp pings. Now I col­lect sheets, tow­els, cook­ing things, garbage bags, an elec­tric burn­er to give to an acquain­tance; he has just let us know about 200 Thai agri­cul­tur­al work­ers who ran from the south after see­ing their friends abduct­ed and slaugh­tered. Will they be able to fly home? Will they stay here? To work what land now? Do they under­stand what is hap­pen­ing? He loads the things into the already very full trunk of his car, with his son. Last year, this fam­i­ly hap­pened to inher­it my son’s bunk bed as their young child was ready for a larg­er bed. Now we are try­ing to res­cue peo­ple togeth­er with old sheets (Shai’s child­hood sheets from Tar­get, with foot­balls and soc­cer balls) and extra large garbage bags.

Shai comes home late at night. He has eat­en well from food brought to feed the vol­un­teers, and still, he is so hun­gry because he is six­teen. Schnitzel late at night. 

Face­book is full of miss­ing peo­ple. I am start­ing to under­stand how many peo­ple are dead in the south. I am scrolling non stop in between every­thing else.

Tues­day. I don’t know what to do with myself. My friend Yael is mak­ing sand­wich­es for sol­diers at the café her daugh­ter works at. She is wrap­ping them in plas­tic, an assem­bly line. Wear­ing the café apron. She takes a self­ie and sends it to me. Ves­tiges of the nor­mal. She says they aren’t tak­ing any more vol­un­teers right now. 

I don’t want to leave Tzi­po­ra at home to vol­un­teer any­where more than a few min­utes away so I gath­er up more sup­plies for under­stocked sol­diers: socks, black and olive under­shirts, Vase­line, ath­letes foot spray. I argue with Tzi­po­ra about tak­ing it to the cor­ner. She doesn’t want to leave the house. She goes with Diane, who is stay­ing with us now that we have Priya’s emp­ty bed. We need company. 

I go to the store. There is no food on the shelves. No eggs. No milk. No bread. I make cin­na­mon muffins with what’s in the house.

No word from the miss­ing friends. 

I want the gov­ern­ment to resign — from Bibi down­ward. How can three days have passed and still, we have no emer­gency gov­ern­ment? How can no one from the gov­ern­ment have gone down to the south to see what is there? How can no one have addressed the fam­i­lies of our hun­dred-plus hostages? A friend says what we are all think­ing: we’ve been aban­doned al maleh.’” That’s the cel­e­bra­to­ry phrase of the right from when they were elect­ed: a right wing gov­ern­ment al maleh,” they promised, full-steam ahead. Full-full. This is what it looks like: no state, al maleh. Each man for him­self. Lit­er­al­ly. Except that luck­i­ly this is a state full of peo­ple who don’t believe that shit. Even many of those who vot­ed for it. And now all those peo­ple are what we’ve got with­out a State. 

I get eat­en up think­ing of the months of demon­stra­tions – all the warn­ings Bibi got that the judi­cial over­haul was putting the coun­try at uncon­scionable secu­ri­ty risk – and all the min­is­ters who said that Israel didn’t need the US for any­thing. Eat­en up. I know I am not alone. 

I sit down to send short mes­sages to a num­ber of my Pales­tin­ian stu­dents. Just a line or two to say I am think­ing of them and that I hope they are safe in these ter­ri­ble days. I write because I care about them and because there will be a day after. Also, I have no idea what they are expe­ri­enc­ing right now. One stu­dent writes back to say she is falling into a ״harsh depres­sion,״ and she thanks me for my note. Anoth­er tells me it is a curse to know both Hebrew and Ara­bic because it is dou­ble the extrem­i­ty and the vio­lence on her social media. A few don’t reply. Anoth­er says her expe­ri­ence at the uni­ver­si­ty is the thing that gives her the most hope. I can pic­ture her per­fect­ly even though she grad­u­at­ed a few years ago.

In the evening, I walk ten min­utes to pay a shi­va call to a British fam­i­ly whose child was a lone sol­dier. His par­ents, I hear as I approach, are mov­ing to Israel. I don’t know when they decid­ed to do that. Many young peo­ple con­gre­gate under the tent that has been put up for the out­door shi­va. The ones stand­ing around me shuf­fle ner­vous­ly because they did not know this per­son, Netanel Yang, and they do not know his fam­i­ly. A stack of bright pho­tos is being hand­ed around. I move toward the front of the group where the fam­i­ly is sit­ting. Many young peo­ple are just stand­ing, unsure what to do now. I move toward a young woman whom I gath­er is the sis­ter of the sol­dier. She is seat­ed on a low mourn­ers’ stool. Stand­ing in front of her, I tell her I didn’t know her broth­er but that I am so sor­ry for her loss. I take her hand and tell her that she is not alone. She thanks me, she says it means a great deal. Her moth­er is laugh­ing in con­ver­sa­tion with some­one she seems to know and she does not look to me like a moth­er in grief. Which is an absur­di­ty. What does a moth­er in grief look like? My short exchange is over and I don’t feel a need to try to speak more with this woman, to ask about her broth­er as I might in a shi­va where I know the fam­i­ly. I say, May you be com­fort­ed from the heav­ens,” and step back­ward. I did what I came to do. Oth­ers, clos­er, or dif­fer­ent­ly ori­ent­ed, will talk and sit longer. On my way out in the dark, I rec­og­nize a woman on her way in. We have known each oth­er for decades but not well. We hug as if we are the dear­est of friends. Twice. Lat­er I remem­ber that the year her first child was born, maybe twen­ty-five years ago, I watched her hand him to her hus­band at the end of Yom Kip­pur prayers as we all danced and sang with that post-fast, light­head­ed empti­ness, and I watched him take the baby from her, as if he were the sin­gle most pre­cious thing in the world. I real­ize the once-baby, whom I saw last when he was a tall, shy look­ing nine­teen year old, is like­ly serv­ing some­where now. 

I text the syn­a­gogue group to let peo­ple know that more peo­ple can arrive at the shi­va, that it isn’t mas­sive­ly full. And a friend texts me pri­vate­ly to ask should she go, and I say, they need adults. Teenagers can’t nav­i­gate the strange­ness and the oth­er­world­ly dif­fi­cul­ty. They want to help but they don’t know how to do this thing. Not like we do either, I add. 

Wednes­day. Choco­late chip cook­ies. Shai seems to be look­ing for food even more than usu­al. Com­fort food. The oven is warm, the kitchen is hot. My hands do what they need to do with­out think­ing. I text while I bake, because keep­ing in touch matters. 

I want to help but I can’t keep search­ing for things to do. I see a post on my fem­i­nist activist What­sApp group, ask­ing for help orga­niz­ing vol­un­teer efforts for fam­i­lies with a par­ent called up. I get on the Zoom train­ing a lit­tle lat­er and with­in five min­utes, I have giv­en my name as a local coor­di­na­tor in Jerusalem. It actu­al­ly doesn’t feel like a choice. My job will be to match peo­ple, most­ly women, who have asked for help, with vol­un­teers. In oth­er words, to find vol­un­teers to babysit, to pre­pare food, to take a dog out for walks, what­ev­er the needs are. The idea is that most women are sure that some­one else has it worse than them, that they don’t need the help bad­ly enough. Our job is to use our emo­tion­al intel­li­gence on these phone calls to con­vince these women it is okay for them to take resources, to get help. Even if they are not absolute­ly at the very very end of their rope. There are so many peo­ple who want to help. We can do this with­out deny­ing help to the most dire cas­es. One of the three orga­niz­ers of this ini­tia­tive is Yael Yehieli, who found­ed the group 50/50 to bring women into every room where deci­sions are made, where opin­ions are pro­nounced, where cul­ture is per­formed, where things hap­pen. Like so many oth­er polit­i­cal resis­tance groups, this one too is using its data­bas­es and all its resources now to help the coun­try. So much for left­ist trai­tors.” In the absence of a func­tion­al state, so many vol­un­teer groups are real­ly just the resis­tance groups of the last nine months mobi­liz­ing now to col­lect socks, to babysit, to pro­vide tooth­paste and ceram­ic plates for sol­diers’ vests, because there is fun­da­men­tal­ly no min­istry of any­thing that is func­tion­al right now. 

In the after­noon, I go for a walk with my good friend across the street. Her son is wait­ing for a tank on the Gaza bor­der. His own tank was blown up on Sat­ur­day, the same day he was trans­port­ed south mid-morn­ing. In nor­mal times, my friend’s son likes to sing Hasidic melodies with his friends on Shab­bat late into the night, so loud we can hear them across the street, and his younger sis­ter escapes to us, to hang out with Tzi­po­ra, refuge from the many boys around their kitchen table. So his mom and I walk their dog, drop the com­post at the com­mu­ni­ty gar­den, tell each oth­er what we know. She tells me she has heard that Priya’s friend’s broth­er, Aner Shapi­ra, was bad­ly wound­ed. So now I am won­der­ing what this means about our friend, Hersh. I keep send­ing one-line texts to his par­ents. One a day. They send back heart emo­jis. And a mes­sage to keep pray­ing. I recall that his moth­er, Rachel, prayed for our mutu­al friend, Sheila, when Sheila had breast can­cer, invok­ing her Hebrew name every day. We would talk about it each Shab­bat when small groups met to pray dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. I remem­ber when she took Sheila off the list of peo­ple she prayed for because Sheila was out of dan­ger. These are the ways you learn someone’s Jew­ish name: when some­one is in dan­ger, when some­one needs your prayers.

My fam­i­ly in Amer­i­ca doesn’t know what to do with them­selves either. They are tex­ting me like I am tex­ting Rachel. And the only ones not tex­ting are the hostages whose phones were stolen by Hamas. Which is fear­some beyond any­thing, too. I hear that cred­it card charges are now appear­ing, but that is the very, very least of the use to which the phones are being put. And I keep ask­ing Tzi­po­ra, are you see­ing things you don’t want to see on Tik­Tok, and she says no. And I say, it’s hard to unsee things once you’ve seen them, so please, be careful.

In the mid­dle of this day, I start to write, typ­ing fast, because it occurs to me that I will not be able to remem­ber these days at all unless I record.

Wednes­day night, I am mak­ing con­nec­tions between peo­ple who have filled out the form for help and those who want to vol­un­teer. I have to make all these phone calls in Hebrew. In gen­er­al, I hate talk­ing on the phone. With strangers in Hebrew, even more. But I make the calls. A woman with two young chil­dren needs her sukkah tak­en down. When I turn to the sec­ond call, it turns out I know the woman — we had old­est kids in the same school. I move into Eng­lish, as does she. She is a doc­tor, her hus­band was called up. Her two youngest chil­dren are home with her elder­ly par­ents who need help tak­ing care of them. My third call is to the hus­band who filled out the forms for his wife: she has no car and six chil­dren. Can I help find them a dis­count­ed rental while he is called up? 

I text Shai, Need a sukkah tak­en down in Rehavia.” An hour lat­er, he asks me the address. Fif­teen min­utes lat­er, the woman texts me back that two fan­tas­tic boys just took down her sukkah. Unbe­liev­able,” she says. And I can­cel the vol­un­teer from the syn­a­gogue who said he could it do it first thing in the morning. 

Then I post the request for babysit­ting help for the grand­par­ents to my syn­a­gogue group. Five min­utes lat­er, a friend writes back with her teenage daughter’s phone num­ber: I put her in touch with the mother. 

And some­one I don’t know in the syn­a­gogue group says she will find some­one to do the car rental cheap­ly. On some lev­el, this is the eas­i­est job I have ever done.

Diane, who has been cook­ing and hang­ing out with Tzi­po­ra, will leave tomor­row and that does not feel good. My friend Yael says she and her daugh­ter are stay­ing overnight with friends down the street. Nuclear fam­i­ly does not feel like enough.

Thurs­day. In the morn­ing, I make more phone calls. It is a relief to wake up and know what I need to do. I feel well enough to joke with Yael: dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, we would ask each oth­er the end-of-semes­ter teach­ing eval­u­a­tion ques­tion, How well has this pan­dem­ic met your hopes and expec­ta­tions?” I text her, If this war were meet­ing my expec­ta­tions bet­ter, the gym would be open and there would be eggs at the super­mar­ket.” She jokes back. There is an exchange of stickers.

But by noon, the day has bro­ken apart. Priya texts one line, The kid from my mach­la­ka [army train­ing group of thir­ty-five] is dead.” He had been miss­ing. Pri had sat at the kitchen table on Sun­day on a Zoom with her com­man­der and I had heard one shaky voice dur­ing the ques­tion peri­od ask, But what about X? Has any­one heard from him? No one can reach him?” I had heard the com­man­der say back, strong, con­fi­dent, Yes, we know. We are on it. We are in touch with the fam­i­ly. We will update you as we know.” 

Now he’s dead. 

I ask Priya what his name was: Idan Baruch. 

I write back to Priya, can you talk. No, she can’t. I write back, Priya, noth­ing about this is nor­mal. We are in a night­mare in which I know you have to just go on, but some­thing like this is large. Remem­ber that.” 

Lat­er, she calls me. Her voice is ter­ri­bly shaky. He was in Kib­butz Be’eri. He was asth­mat­ic. The ter­ror­ists set the house on fire. And he was asth­mat­ic, so he tried to get out­side to breathe and they killed him. They killed his grand­moth­er. His lit­tle broth­er is miss­ing. His par­ents and one broth­er survived.

Oh Priya.”

Ima, he couldn’t breathe.”

I know. I know. I’m so sor­ry. It is an awful, awful story.”

And then she has to go. She is sure that noth­ing she is doing mat­ters. That her guard­ing of the base is utter­ly super­flu­ous, made up to give them a job. 

When we get off the phone, I text Yael because I can’t be alone with, The kid in my mach­la­ka is dead.” She says, Now you lis­ten. It’s not nor­mal. Priya’s moth­er needs to remem­ber that too.” I go for a walk. Every friend I can think of to walk with in my neigh­bor­hood has a kid at the front.

I write Priya back lat­er in the day with a new thought. When she was young and couldn’t sleep, I would sit next to her on the side of her bed, and say to her, Sleep will come.” My friend Devo­rah had passed that gem on to me, and I gave it straight to Priya. Sleep will come.” And it always did. Even­tu­al­ly. When she was a senior in high school, her teacher asked them to write about some­thing hand­ed down in the fam­i­ly. She wrote about sleep will come.” 

I saw a post yes­ter­day in which a sol­dier of two months returned safe, thank god, to her moth­er after hold­ing out in a shel­ter, against ter­ror­ists, with four oth­er sol­diers, for fif­teen hours. When her moth­er asked her how she sur­vived, she said, Do you remem­ber when I was lit­tle and had night­mares, you used to tell me to repeat, I have strength and hap­pi­ness inside’? So that’s what I did, I repeat­ed it silent­ly so the ter­ror­ists wouldn’t hear me, and I imag­ined light push­ing toward the door, push­ing the ter­ror­ists away.” Think­ing of that extra­or­di­nary post, in which a moth­er gird­ed her daugh­ter, years before her daugh­ter was in dan­ger, with the strength to sur­vive, I write to Priya, Maybe start a breath­ing prac­tice, in which you say, Breathe in, me, breathe out, we. Breathe in, alone, breathe out, togeth­er.’ And do it ten times slow­ly before you try to go to sleep.”

Lat­er that end­less day, I join a What­sApp group in which vol­un­teers want to make sure that chil­dren evac­u­at­ed from the south to hotels and hos­tels in Jerusalem still get birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. As an aside, some­one has writ­ten, Hey, there is a woman here cel­e­brat­ing her for­ti­eth birth­day. Is there any­one who can help bring some joy?” When I see that the hotel is ten min­utes from my house, I say, Hap­py to.” The woman calls me to make sure I am legit, because maybe I am Hamas with an Israeli’s phone. We all wor­ry this now, with peo­ple we don’t know. After a few sen­tences, she gives me the name and I pick up con­tain­ers of ice cream. I get home. When Shai asks me what I am doing as I curl rib­bon around shop­ping bag han­dles, I tell him and he looks at me like I’m nuts. I call a young friend, eight years old, and ask her to please make a home­made card. She is some­thing of an artist and tells me it will take longer than the ten min­utes I give her, so I give her twen­ty minutes. 

When I arrive at the hotel oppo­site the mas­sive Jerusalem The­ater, there are a hun­dred emp­ty park­ing places. The streets are still emp­ty. Shiri meets me in the lob­by: she has known the birth­day cel­e­brant, Mali, for about six hours. She says, We will tip­toe to Mali’s door, you at the head of the line, and we will sur­prise her, singing hap­py birth­day.” I may be the very least like­ly birth­day-parade leader out there. We are a gag­gle of three moth­ers, four or five chil­dren, a stroller. Qui­et­ly we approach the door and knock and when Mali opens it, Shiri bursts out in bois­ter­ous song, Hay­om yom huledet!” We all sing. Mali and I hug. We all hug. She bless­es me. She bless­es my fam­i­ly. We all bless each oth­er. Shiri is record­ing this all on video. Mali tells me this is the most beau­ti­ful birth­day she has ever had. I leave my phone num­ber should they need any­thing else. They left Sderot in the south in the morn­ing with only a suit­case. Who knows when it will be safe to go back. She bless­es my daugh­ter in the army. I go down in the ele­va­tor and head back home. When I show Shai the video, he laughs for the first time in days. Real­ly laughs. Gadol,” he says, mean­ing, Amaz­ing, hilar­i­ous.” I bet he for­wards it to his friends. But a lit­tle lat­er, before he goes out, he puts his arm around me, hug­ging me from his great height, and says, Ima, I real­ly appre­ci­ate all the things you are doing.” I am stuck between hap­pi­ness that Mali had a good birth­day and the near sure­ty that she and I have nev­er vot­ed for the same par­ty in any elec­tion. It’s like­ly that she vot­ed for the gov­ern­ment al maleh. What to do with that, I have no idea. What to do with the fact that our gov­ern­ment has no strat­e­gy, no long-term plan. For­get long-term plan. They don’t even have the hostages at the fore­front. So much blus­ter, so many men who say only, flat­ten Gaza. We have been there before. And now, even with an emer­gency gov­ern­ment, there is not a sin­gle woman with a voice at the table where this war and our future will get decid­ed. One woman has a seat at that table, and her sta­tus is: Observ­er.”

Final­ly it is night. Final­ly. While mix­ing cake bat­ter, I get on the syn­a­gogue Zoom at 9:30. Because I am mix­ing, I am not sure if I have ful­ly under­stood what I think I have just heard, a friend say­ing on the Zoom that Aner Shapira’s par­ents, Moshe and Shi­ra, were informed today that Aner is dead. That we pray tonight for his soul and for Hersh’s safety.

I can’t breathe. I put down the mix­er. I sit down. It is not ful­ly pos­si­ble for me to believe I have just heard right. Even the things we know can hap­pen, we don’t real­ly believe until we are left no choice.

When I text the friend a few min­utes lat­er to make 100% sure I have heard cor­rect­ly, that I have not mis­un­der­stood the Hebrew, or mis­heard the name, she writes back, To my great sor­row, you have not misunderstood.”

And now, I am left to fig­ure out how to tell Priya before she sees it on Instagram.

The views and opin­ions expressed above are those of the author, based on their obser­va­tions and experiences.

Sup­port the work of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and become a mem­ber today.

Ilana M. Blum­berg is asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture and past direc­tor of the Shaindy Rud­off Grad­u­ate Pro­gram in Cre­ative Writ­ing at Bar Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty in Tel Aviv, Israel. She is the author of Open Your Hand: Teach­ing as a Jew, Teach­ing as an Amer­i­can, Vic­to­ri­an Sac­ri­fice: Ethics and Eco­nom­ics in Mid-Cen­tu­ry Nov­els, and the Sami Rohr Choice Award-win­ning mem­oir Hous­es of Study: a Jew­ish Woman Among Books.