Photo Credit: Jewish Press

My husband recently visited the Nachal Oz army base, which was obliterated on October 7. It looks the same as it did then – aside from “Am Yisrael Chai,” which someone spelled out in ash on the wall. They are powerful words that have become emblematic during this war, offering the comfort that despite all of the pain and loss, Am Yisrael is everlasting. But the words also offer a deeper meaning: chayim means living meaningfully.

There is nothing more meaningful than living in Israel during this time, which is especially felt during this month. By experiencing a very different Chol HaMoed from the way I grew up, by hiking the beautiful land and participating in Birkat Kohanim at the Kotel and then standing for the siren on Yom HaShoah a week later, thinking about all who were killed with no way to fight back, as we fight back against our enemies, fulfilling the dreams of those who died in the Shoah with L’Shana ha’baah b’Yerushalayim on their lips. You feel it with the tears that choke your throat when the sirens ring on Yom HaZikaron – and all the more this year – at all of those we have lost, and as we segue into the simple and quiet joy of Yom Ha’atzmaut.


It’s these emotions; the tears, the fear, the exhilaration, the fierce belonging and attachment to a land and our people, the willingness to sacrifice and the incredible privilege of having what to sacrifice for, that is real living. And in that context, we are feeling Am Yisrael Chai, all the more, especially during these difficult times.

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Ariela Davis is a passionate Jewish educator/writer and also served as a Rebbetzin before her aliyah in 2020. She is the Menahelet of Ulpanat Orly in Bet Shemesh.