Three Shlichim by Talia Goldberg

This week, two of my friends who are also shlichim in the US, came to visit me. I wanted to show them the beautiful area where I now live, so we headed out to the Uintas. We started out with a hike through evergreen meadows to beautiful views of the mountains. Then we went backpacking our way to see different lakes. One of my friends, Natan, says “at some point the only thing you need to make coffee is a good view.” Let me just tell you, we drank a lot of coffee.

We continued our journey up towards the Tetons. Three Israelis hiking for fun is something special. We are three young adults hiking in sandals, wearing Tembel hats, brewing our own coffee and talking as if no one else was around. But, of course, there were others in the Tetons with us and one couple who started speaking with us, understood quickly from the accents (not mine obviously, but my friends) that we are Israelis.

While we were in the Tetons, we had another friend from Utah (not Israeli) join us. For 10 minutes, we were just talking to each other in hebrew and the only words she understood from the Hebrew flying around was Trump, cousin, Coronavirus and Bibi. I was telling her afterwards that my friends were describing how at their sister's husband’s cousin’s wedding, the mother of the bride got Coronavirus and how bad she had it. So, my Utah friend asked me “wait, so what did Trump have to do with all of that? All three of us laughed and I explained that Israelis speak openly and honestly about what they think about politics and other things; and that what happened to their sister’s husband’s cousin’s mother in law is important, even if we don’t know their names. To me this is a classic Israeli story.

The journey of the three Israeli shlichim continued north to a tiny town in Montana. We walked around there and decided to go into a store. In the back of the store, there was a gun shop. As Israelis, we will never get used to seeing guns in regular stores for sale. So, we went in to satisfy our curiosity. We started talking to the seller, and then spoke to each other in Hebrew. He looked at us and asked, “where are you from?” “Israel”, we said proudly. He looked at us with tears in his eyes, and said, “I want you to know, that I love Israel, and I support Israel and I'm so happy to meet people from Israel.” This was amazing because people do not always react that way to Israelis abroad, as my friends experienced a very different reaction when they were in a store together just a few weeks ago in New Hampshire.

A lot of people hear me say that I am the luckiest girl in the world. I feel lucky not only for the great company on my trip this week, and the spectacular views, but also for being able to be Israeli and proud.