As I sit down to write this, I am accompanied by the sound of loud Israeli music, rambunctious conversation, and the ambient noise of people partying. The Israelis on the beach singing karaoke since sundown have not heard what happened in Boston, they were well liquored up before the marathon even started in celebration of Israel’s 65th Independence Day.
I had spent the day setting up tables, taping Israeli flags to the ceiling of a friend’s house, and helping my mother prepare a number of dishes for a potluck party. I was just getting to my second serving of homemade zaatar bread, meat-stuffed burrekas, and mediterranean vegetable salad when a friend messaged me with the news.
I saw the gruesome pictures, despite my general aversion to such reporting, but took a moment to digest the news of what appears to be a terrorist attack on US soil. I ran inside to flip on the TV, but the Israeli news channels were still playing the feed of the national ceremony in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister, the President, and assorted dignitaries were all there. But they didn’t know either.
I walked back outside to the festivities and quickly realized I was in no shape for jovial conversation. I may not be an American yet, not officially. But I am in spirit. I may engage in what amounts to PR for the State of Israel, not officially. But I am as Americans as I am Israeli. I realize now - more than ever - that I am a product of both cultures, an admirer of both storied histories, and a patriot of both countries.
Today I am an American, regardless of my immigration status. I do not need a passport to stand in solidarity with the people of Boston, the people of Massachusetts, and the people from all across the United States of America who came to participate in the marathon. I walked away from the parties to watch the news and follow breaking reports - and rumors - on Twitter.
Today, on my first Independence Day in Israel since 2010, I cannot celebrate the joyous occasion of the 65th anniversary of a two thousand year old dream because my other people are hurting.
Today I become a hyphen, an Israeli-American. The tragic events of today consecrate my allegiance more than any stamp from immigration services or oath ceremony ever could.