Happy Anniversary LeahI can’t believe it will be three years this October since I made Aliyah. It seems like just yesterday I was driving around South Beach on my fire engine red scooter, writing restaurant reviews for Ego Trip Magazine and writing commission meeting minutes for the Miami Herald. I look back now on how different my life in Miami was – I miss my hometown sometimes – friends and family I left behind. I can’t tell you how much my life has changed. When I first arrived in Jerusalem, I got a great internship at the Jerusalem Post. Day three on the job, I was “tossed into the deep end” – covering my first suicide bombing. I remember arriving at the scene of the blast, camera in hand, shaking like a leaf. Certainly a far cry from Miami Beach. The next day I found myself at the funeral of some of the victims from the attack, several of whom were my age. A few months later, I went for an interview for a job as a news reporter at Israel’s only English language news station – IBA NEWS, Channel One. I remember walking in to the screen-test in a pin striped suit with little idea who I’d be up against. I thought to myself, ‘I am in Israel, at an audition to be on TV!’ I’m not sure I would have ever been given such an opportunity back in Miami; To my shock and delight, I got a call that evening from the Department Head, congratulating me – that I was IBA’s newest correspondent. Six months into the position, I found myself covering one of the biggest stories of the decade: Israel’s Disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. I arrived at the West Bank town of Sanur at 3am, in an Israeli Defense Force convoy, wearing a flack jacket and helmet. I had a reporter’s pad in hand. This is what I wrote: “Thank you G-d for bringing me to Israel. It has changed my life forever.” That’s when the violence began, which put an end to my personal reflections and I immediately had to enter persona #2: a war correspondent in a battle zone. After that, I was sent to report on Israel’s second war in Lebanon. My father called me to see if I was okay. He could hear rockets exploding in the background. “Leah, are you alright?” he said. “Are you afraid? Do you want to come home?” I took a deep breath and said, “Dad, I am home. There is no other place I’d rather be.”

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