As many of you already know, I was born in Israel and moved to Los Angeles as a kid, but not many people know why…
In 1990, while I was living in Israel a war broke out, the Gulf War. I was about 5 years old and my brother was 3. My dad was drafted back into the military after already finishing 3 years in the army and my mom was only 25 years old. Looking back at it now, I can never imagine myself at the age of 25 with 2 children, while my husband is away and having to deal with war. My mom is a pretty amazing lady, being so strong through the whole experience.
I was living in Ramat Gan at the time, a close city near Tel Aviv and was only in 1st grade. When the war broke out, everyone who lived in Israel, had to make a safe room in the house, as we were under a chemical threat. We had to have a padded room, where all windows had to be covered and protected from any chemicals that could come in. We had to have enough food and water to last 2 week and anything else we really needed.
Everyone that was over the age of 4 had to have a gas mask with them everywhere they went, including school. My mom was always good at trying to make us feel comfortable about the whole situation. She actually decorated our gas mask box, with pink and blue wrapping paper and stickers.
(My brother and I with our gas masks)
Hearing sirens break out, in the middle of school, while being in a grocery store or in the middle of the night, became the norm for most. While the sirens are going off, we all had to run to the protected locations. As a kid, the sirens wasn’t what really scared me, but putting on that mask, was what did. It had this awful smell of rubber, that I still can smell. I thought I would probably die from not being able to breathe in that thing. It was so tight and suffocating, that nothing in the world seemed worse.
During that time, Ramat Gan was one of the most popular cities that got bombed constantly. At one point, a bomb hit less than a mile away from our home, when my parents decided that this is not a life to live. They wanted the best for my brother and I. They couldn’t raise us safely under these circumstances. So my mom, brother and I moved to my grandparents house, in Arad, which was far from the war. Meanwhile, my dad moved to Los Angeles after buying a business from a friend and worked as hard as he could to get us out of there. I didn’t see my dad for an entire year. Looking back at it, it kind of makes me sad and warms my heart, to see how far a parent will go to give their kids a better life and the sacrifice they are willing to make. I think that’s what makes parents our heroes and role models.
At the time, I thought moving to America was the worst idea ever, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was so close to my grandparents, as I felt like they have also raised me. The thought of being SO far away from them was unbearable to me. Not only that, but leaving all my friends and moving to a country where I don’t even speak the language seemed so scary. After days and nights of crying, I, of course, got on that plane, both scared and excited. Who would have known who I’d be now, if I didn’t.
Life wasn’t much easier moving to a new country, there is so much to learn. New language, reading, writing, a different mentality, new food and much more. To top it all off, after only being in Los Angeles for just 3 weeks, we were hit with one of the worst earthquakes. The Northridge Earthquake destroyed more than half of Los Angeles, in 1994. Our start in America, wasn’t a start that anyone wants. Yet somehow, through all the hardship we managed to pull through and build a life for ourselves.
We moved a lot in our first few years in Los Angeles. However, I was lucky enough to make trips out to Israel for 2 months every summer.
I always think back and wonder where would I be, if I never got on that plane. What kind of a life would I have? What kind of a person would I have been? Would it have been for better or worse?
For years I thought that my parents ruined my life for bringing me to Los Angeles. I came to America only knowing 5 words, ‘Hi’, ‘Bye’, ‘Thank You’, ‘No’ and ‘I Love You’. I had no language, no friends and no other family. At one point, I even decided that I don’t wanna learn English because I was having such a hard time adjusting to the change. But growing up and looking back at all their hard efforts and sacrifices, it’s a pretty humbling and inspiring experience. I learned some pretty valuable lessons; I learned to adapt to change from a young age, I now can make friends anywhere I go, I pick up languages pretty easily, I have no problem with moving around and I learned how to be a strong person from a young age.
Israel still remains my favorite place in the world. I’ve moved back there for short periods of time throughout my life. I still will want to move back there some time in the future. But I also have a long love for America and the opportunities I was given there.
America gave me some pretty amazing gifts; I got my 2 incredible little sisters, I met my amazing best friend of 8 years now, I fell in love a few times, I got to explore a few careers, went to school for a few things and traveled.
I am truly blessed and grateful for the life I’ve had and how things turned out after all. It’s where my passion for traveling was created and remains. Traveling back to Israel every summer to visit my family and friends is what got me started on my traveling journey and I wouldn’t have it any other way.