Onward Israel Cincinnati 2021 Week 8: The Blog to End It All

The Blog to End It All

You can find me writing this last blog entry in a quaint and shady spot outside of the Coffee Emporium in Hyde Park, Cincinnati.

Are beads of sweat dripping down my forehead distracting me while I’m trying to focus? Yes.

Is Cincinnati just as humid and muggy as Tel Aviv? That’s a debatable argument.

Am I technically supposed to still be in Israel? Yes.

So, what happened exactly?


We finally settled into our home at The Little Tel Aviv Hostile after our trip to Be’er Sheva and boom, our Onward group chat alerted all participants that someone had tested positive for COVID 19 who we happened to spend time with on our shabbaton.

*Cue panic, Facetime calls home, and general downward spiraling by the masses. *

COVID was something we had managed to escape the entire summer until now.

Sadly, it’s nighttime when we receive the news, and we can’t do anything but wait until morning and pray that our vaccines have done their job.

I was woken up the next day by a frenzy of alarms going off reminding me it was time to reluctantly lug myself out of bed and bus to the local COVID 19 testing site. All participants were tested and again, we waited for our results playing out a dangerous game of “what if” scenarios in our minds. Almost an entire day passed and hardly any of us got our test results back.

I was self-quarantined with my roommate Jenna when we were shaken from our boredom and laziness by out-of-the-blue screams coming from one end of the hall.

*Ping, Ping. Ping, Ping. * The group chat filled with notifications, and it suddenly made sense why someone was screaming like Bertha Mason trapped in the attic in Jane Eyre.

“I have COVID,” it read. Shit.

Someone from the Cincinnati group had tested positive.

Onward notified our Cincinnati cohort and said if we wished, we could book a flight to go home early. Even though we were supposed to leave Israel in five days or so, the biggest “pro” to leaving in the next two days was that none of us would risk being exposed any further to COVID and wouldn’t be stuck in the Holy Land for two additional weeks.

Negative test results rolled in and the group was divided resulting in half of us leaving Israel early and the other half sticking it out until the end.

Our goodbyes were nothing close to picture-perfect. We didn’t get our fairytale ending or one last crazy night together to mark in the books.

On Sunday, my dad picked me up from the airport. Like any curious parent wondering about their child’s escapades, he wanted to hear a few stories from my trip on the ride home. As I thought of my new friends, I began to flutter with emotions that I had tried to suppress on my journey home.

In total and utter sincerity, I was gifted a group of friends who are resilient. The Cincinnati Onward participants complemented each other in the best ways encouraging quirkiness where no one was pressured to “fit” into a pre-set mold. We may have been forced to become a family at first but above all odds, it seems we were able to harbor a home filled with respect, compassion, and of course, a hell of a good time.

Until next time,



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