the frivolity of tp

When I try to explain what I studied in college, I use toilet paper as a starting off point. Toilet paper is a commodity. It is something unnecessary in our lives that has adapted into something viewed as essential. We don’t need toilet paper. We need food, water, shelter, and security. Once the basics areContinue reading “the frivolity of tp”

I signed up for this

At the bratty age of 16, I used to complain my way through Israel, jokingly remarking, “I didn’t sign up for this.” As a teen, it was in reference to things out of my control like a long hike or being held hostage in Haifa for four days too many. I complained about the cucumbersContinue reading “I signed up for this”


I might be dissociating. Sometimes when I walk out of my room on base at night I think I’m on a movie set. The artificial grass, the concrete, the staged glow of spotlights. It’s too illuminated to be night. It’s too temperate to be outside. There is no breeze, no wind, no movement. Everything feelsContinue reading “Fake”


I am a bull in a China shop when I speak Hebrew. It’s only fitting for a Taurus to thrash through a second language, ramming by and not thinking twice about the shattered shards of grammar and correct pronunciation that suffer. Perhaps the bull doesn’t mind because it is only a bull, not responsible forContinue reading “Taurus”

I’m sorry

To the child sitting next to me on the bus from Jerusalem proper to pakmaz: I am sorry that my phone activity is so mundane. I know that you were expecting an interesting adult—especially a soldier—who browsed through newsfeeds with photos and videos. Yet you had the distinct misfortune of sitting next to me andContinue reading “I’m sorry”


The lady at Cofix kept responding to me in English. That hasn’t happened in a while. I also haven’t been in Jerusalem as a civilian in a while. The bus driver waited for me and then held my espresso as I sifted through my wallet for my rav kav. “What do you want?” he askedContinue reading “Jlem”

Blissfully Vague

I recently presented a paper I wrote on the topic of military diplomacy. It was for an essay-writing competition within my unit, because unlike normal combat units, we don’t just krav maga until defeat. The prompt was vague, instructing participants to write about something military diplomacy-related, drawing on personal experiences but ensuring that the pieceContinue reading “Blissfully Vague”

Israeli Yom Kippur #4

I welcomed in Yom Kippur with shrimp, caviar, and corona; essentially beginning the holiday by creating new sins to atone for. Dinner started at 20:00, an hour after the fast was due to start, thereby declaratively sealing my decision to eat this year. When I arrived to dinner, I was told, “There’s corona in theContinue reading “Israeli Yom Kippur #4”


I can draw a picture. The type you draw in kindergarten, then continue on until either you’ve honed the craft or given up altogether. It starts blank, a void of white. Like a child, I work my way from the bottom up. First is grass, but in this case there is no grass. In itsContinue reading “Base”

Breathing easier

I breathe better in Tel Aviv. It’s a difficult reality to accept, especially when my comparison point is paradise. I can breathe and I can run and I can be on my kibbutz, an Eden, but it isn’t the same as Tel Aviv. I went to Tel Aviv for the first time since the virusContinue reading “Breathing easier”

Keep your signs and your symbolism out of my country, Donald

DISCLAIMER: From my limited understanding of my limited rights, I am fairly sure that my only limitation to expressing my political views is that I cannot discuss Israeli politics. I’m in an army that serves under the Ministry of Defense, under the Israeli government at large, so it makes sense. What I learned recently, however,Continue reading “Keep your signs and your symbolism out of my country, Donald”

I got the job

I crossed my T’s, dotted my I’s. I sat up as straight as I could, never nodding off. I was quiet, but I asked insightful questions (and only a few kitbag ones). I was polite and formal and acknowledged that I knew I was in a military framework when I couldn’t help but tiptoe ontoContinue reading “I got the job”

Lost but found

I think I figured it out: to be Israeli is to go out of your way to help strangers. It’s other things too, like yelling and saying nuuuuuuuu when someone in front of you doesn’t move up a millimeter in line at the grocery store. It’s using capitalism as a vehicle to live life, ratherContinue reading “Lost but found”

Fool me twice…

A few summers ago I drank grapefruit juice, convinced it was lemonade because of the picture on the bottle. Had I read the label, I would have known that eshkoliot is in no way lemonada. Similarly, on my last day of basic training I realized that I had been eating PLUM jam for the pastContinue reading “Fool me twice…”

Hebrew I’ve learned

I’ve learned all the parts of an M-16 (M-shesh-esrei) in Hebrew. But I don’t think knowing the very specific pin name (pin petzil) that you need to extract in order to further deconstruct the weapon is going to help me after my army career. What will serve useful is the new tones I’ve been cultivating,Continue reading “Hebrew I’ve learned”

5:50 AM

Dog tag* – on. Shirt – tucked. Pants – buttoned. Pant legs – rubber banded. Socks – hidden. Boots – laced. Choger** – pocketed. Phone – charged. Jacket – zipped. Bucket hat*** – folded. Gun – slung. Neck warmer – warmed. Pills – taken. Chet**** – formed. Commander – answered. Breakfast – eaten. Day –Continue reading “5:50 AM”

Birthright & Basketball

I was just asked if I want to speak English for possibly the first time in months. While perhaps it’s an achievement that I have gone this long without hearing the dreaded question, it also felt like an insult. I’m in Sderot. Who speaks English in Sderot? I continued my exchange in Hebrew after telling the man atContinue reading “Birthright & Basketball”

More nice things

א. My necklace broke. My necklace has broken before, and each time I have fixed it. This time, I didn’t fix it. In a battle with a mosquito, it tore off my neck and into a silver heap on the table. I’ve been wearing (and breaking and fixing) this necklace since I was sixteen, rightContinue reading “More nice things”

as a kibbutznik(it)

I stood on a ladder and painted a rose on the water tower as the sun’s heat waxed, until all that was left was a chill and red. The red was everywhere. On the ladder. On my hands. (ALL OVER my hands, as if Lady Macbeth had suddenly taken up a predilection for paint). OnContinue reading “as a kibbutznik(it)”

Nice things

Today I learned that you don’t have to pay 5 shekels for a shopping cart at grocery stores – the 5 shekels is just a pikadon, a deposit. You get the shopping cart back once you return it to its proper place post shopping. The garin Instagram page I run is a source of newsContinue reading “Nice things”

The חול

I left home so that I could come back and remember why I love the land. I left so that I could miss it. I left while I still had the freedom to do so. So that when I go back, I am ready to defend it. I left because Israelis are annoying. On theContinue reading “The חול”

Day of the 100

The bus dropped me off at 7:34 in the morning, in some nondescript area between Ramat Aviv and Ramat Hasharon. I walked toward a building, which looked more like a high school than an army base. I found my fellow Garin member and we approached the curious structure, entering a lobby of Israeli twelfth graders,Continue reading “Day of the 100”

Routine – שגרה

In light of the חגים ending and my schedule including and excluding structure, I thought it was about time to chronicle what my regular days (Sun-Thurs) have consisted of throughout the past few months: 6:12 – first alarm goes off, snooze. 6:15 – second alarm goes off, snooze. 6:18 – third alarm goes off, finallyContinue reading “Routine – שגרה”

In my beginning

I loved Israel before I knew what Israel was. I grew up listening to cassettes and CDs of Israeli songs in the car and I said the שמע before bed. I learned Hebrew in school and supplemented the language with daily lessons about my people’s origin story, far greater than that of any superhero orContinue reading “In my beginning”

What’s in my backpack for a day of Israeli bureaucracy, another list

Phone Phone charger Portable phone charger AirPods Sweatshirt Jean jacket (the Middle East has air conditioning) A big bag of cariot 2 Master Cafe coffee drinks (tiramisu, obviously) ID Immigrant ID All other forms of identification (passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, Tulane Splash Card, etc.) Documents (see above ++transcripts/ health forms and other miscellaneous documentsContinue reading “What’s in my backpack for a day of Israeli bureaucracy, another list”

My last visa

The last time I spent more than three months in Israel, I had a visa. I didn’t need the visa because every time I (an American citizen) left Israel before the three month mark, my “visit” reset. I had the visa because it was advised, since I could have hypothetically remained in the country fromContinue reading “My last visa”

The levity of packing

I thought packing was going to be difficult. I thought I would want to bring everything so that nothing felt left behind. I thought I wouldn’t part with items because maybe those items constituted a piece of my identity. Maybe the collection of materiality that I have amassed and cultivated over the years has morphedContinue reading “The levity of packing”

In the Beginning

…בראשית, הייתי ברוטשילד בדרך לוונג In the beginning, I was on Rothschild, on the way to VONG. But it started before that. It started when I couldn’t handle the States and would google things like, “how to join the idf,” inevitably ending up on Garin Tzabar’s website. Or maybe it started even before then, whenContinue reading “In the Beginning”