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  • Writer's pictureRaizel Druxman

The People You Meet Along the Way

I am a hardcore, certified extrovert. My mom said that I was born like this. She tells me stories of how outgoing I was as a little kid. I love hearing that because connecting with people is my favorite thing to do.

When I moved to Jerusalem, I was enchanted by the connections I was making. I connected with the bus drivers who listened to the Torah troupe on the loudspeaker, the taxi drivers who asked me why I wasn’t married yet and either blessed me to find my soulmate or offered to set me up with their son.

I connected with the basta owner at the shuk, trying to outshout the strawberry vendor next to him with a twinkle in his eye. I connected with the homeless man who walks around with a notebook to communicate with people because he took a speech fast to compensate for something he did in the past that he thinks he hasn’t yet been forgiven for.

I connected with the beggar woman with the piercing green eyes, who collect funds by the Western Wall and once saved me from scammers that were harassing me. I reconnected with some of the Israelis I met on my trek through India and I connected with dozens of other strangers, including one old man who literally walked up to me in the middle of the street and asked if he could give me a blessing.

 View from the backyard of a home in Amirim
Credit: Raizel Druxman

But after living in Jerusalem for seven years, I started feeling pulled back to my Seattle roots and was craving nature. The main thing holding me back was leaving all my close friends and family. I had such deep clarity that I needed the shift, but still felt fears and doubts about moving somewhere new and being alone. August 2019 was the first time I took a road trip to Northern Israel to explore different communities and see if I could find the right place.

It wasn’t until October 2020, after a lot of ups and downs and emotional upheaval, that I finally moved up North. Sometimes we get a vision before it’s ready to be actualized, but we just need to start moving in that direction, no matter how long the journey takes.

My exploration up North and my move connected me to so many new people, some of whom already feel like family. In particular, because a few weeks after I moved, I got seriously injured (a story for another time). It’s pretty amazing that when we imagine ourselves in a new place, we imagine ourselves alone, but we forget that wherever we go we make new connections that we never could have anticipated.

Sunset over the mountains surrounding Amirim
Credit: Raizel Druxman

Like, Mahmoud who I met at the car wash on the side of the highway, who invited me for a family dinner.

Or Anat and her 13-year-old son, who I met in the grocery store in Kiryat Tivon. They connected me to her friend for a place to sleep for the night.

When I arrived, the parents weren’t home, but their 13-year-old son helped me shlep all my things up to the 3rd floor. When the parents came home I discovered that their daughter had gotten married just a few days earlier and they were still amidst celebrations.

Or Ruchama, who was the only woman I knew when I decided to move to Amirim. When I saw the house I’m living in now, I thought, I could move to a new place if I know one person - she was the one person. I had passed through Amirim for a pedicure with her, months before I even considered Amirim as an option. We connected immediately as she shared some of her life story with me and how she had transformed her life emotionally and spiritually.

A few days into my move I met Hussein who came to fix the gas and ended up building the bed frames for me the next day. When I tried to pay him he refused to accept it, insisting, “I like to help women who don’t have a man.” Later that week I met Menachem, who sold me appliances and told the delivery guys to treat me like their sister. Then there was Shimon, the Breslov paramedic who helped me breathe properly when I was starting to hyperventilate.

Moshe was there too. My neighbor in the Moshav across the street, who responded to the call when he heard it was someone from Amirim. As they were putting me in the ambulance, he shouted to me that I should be in touch when I’m better so they could host me for Shabbat, and everyone was showering me with blessings to find my soulmate. Chava, a lively nurse, who I called to help me change my bandage, showed up with a whole meal and her cute puppy and taught me how to change my own bandage so I could be more independent. I reconnected with Ora Simcha, a friend from Jerusalem who happened to move to Amirim the same week I did and showed up the day after my injury to wash my hair, and cook and clean for me.

She introduced me to her friend, Maddie, who despite having a very active toddler to chase after, did my dishes, went grocery shopping, and cooked for me too. Maddie connected me with Chen, my neighbor, who after meeting me one time, came and swept my floors before Shabbos because I still couldn’t put weight on my legs. Through them, I met Shmuel, an older Moroccan saba who rushed to bring me crutches when I was injured, invited me for hamin on Shabbat, and gifted me with one of his calligraphy Eishet Chayil art pieces.

This is the magic of life, especially in Israel. We are gifted with so many different people in our lives to help us along the way. Our lives unfold in a way we never could have imagined, with people we never could have imagined - even for a certified extrovert like me.


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