Bringing a sense of normalcy during times of war can be tough, particularly for the more than 100,000 evacuees from Israel’s north and south living in hotels since the outbreak of war with Hamas in October. Shula Giladi, 70, from Moshav Shtula in northern Israel, is one of those finding light in these dark times.
Forced from her home on the Lebanese border due to the intense security risk from Hezbollah rocket fire, Giladi and members of her community have been living at the Royal Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv, a property of the Israeli hotel chain Isrotel, which has hosted thousands of evacuees in their properties across the country.
Giladi told The Algemeiner that prior to the war, which erupted with Hamas’ Oct. 7 cross-border raid into southern Israel from Gaza, she was running a successful culinary business in her hometown called Shula Mastula, catering traditional kosher Kurdish food to visitors from Israel and abroad. She served her food fresh from her garden, while singing traditional songs and telling stories about her life. “I love my kitchen; I love people — I know how to interact with them,” she said, describing her passion for the business.
However, when the war broke out, Giladi was forced to abandon both her home of the last 55 years and her business, bringing her to Tel Aviv where she has been living ever since. This was of course not easy, she said, remarking that “three months away from home is not simple.”
Conflict for Giladi, though, was not new, as she had been living for decades near the contentious Israel-Lebanon border, where the presence of soldiers and the potential for war was the norm. “Forever our view was the soldiers. The soldiers are a part of life,” she said.
Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terror group that wields significant influence in Lebanon, has intensified along the border since the eruption of conflict in Hamas-ruled Gaza, forcing Israelis to leave their homes under threat of rocket fire.
As the weeks passed since evacuating, Giladi explained, “I had to return to myself and a feeling of home. It was hard to just think about the war.” To make that a reality, the staff at the Royal Beach allowed her to set up a pop-up shop, selling the food she had been making for so many years at her home in Shtula.
The current arrangement allows Giladi to cook dishes from the hotel’s kitchen such as kubeh soup, stuffed grape leaves, beef meatballs, special pickles, among others to those eager to dine or bring home food for the weekend. Open on Thursdays from 11 am to 3 pm and Fridays from 9 am to 1 pm, she charges 25-30 NIS (about $6.50-$8.00) per dish, giving her the ability to earn a living even though her business cannot currently operate.
“I want to thank Isrotel and the hotel for giving me the ability to earn … All they can do to help they have done,” she said. “I feel it and all the other evacuees feel it … We really feel at home.”
According to the hotel’s head chef, Eitan Mizrachi, the shop has been a huge hit. “The pilot sold out every dish. People came and bought and said how good and special the food was,” he said. “It’s very tasty — if it wasn’t it would [still] be there. The food is also so pretty.”
Giladi is grateful to those whom come. “Which country gives such a big hug to its citizens?” she said. “I do not have any words.”
Still, Giladi and the members of her community are ready to return home. “My whole life is there,” she said. “Everyone is ready and waiting.”
‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters
Posters slamming Israel and decrying Canada’s suspension of funding to UNRWA were found at the Thornhill, Ont., offices of Melissa Lantsman, a pro-Israel and Jewish Conservative MP who serves as deputy leader of the Official Opposition. “Blood on Your Hands,” “Stop Arming Israel” and “Fund UNRWA Now” were among the messages found taped to […]
IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi called on the ultra-Orthodox public to mobilize for the current and future wars, a position at odds with their historic role in the state, in which they enjoy near blanket exemptions from military service.
“In these challenging days, there is one thing that is very clear: Everyone should mobilize for the defense of the homeland,” Halevi said.
He added: “This is a different era, and what was before it will certainly be re-examined. The IDF has always sought to bring into its ranks from all sections of Israeli society. This war illustrates the need to change. Join the service, protect the homeland. We have a historic opportunity to expand the sources of recruitment for the IDF at a time when the necessity is very high. We will know how to create the right solutions and conditions for any population that will join this noble mission.”
The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF has been a hot button issue since the state’s establishment in 1948 and, in more recent years, the cause of wide scale backlash against the community. As part of an agreement when the state was founded, the ultra-Orthodox public was exempted completely from service. However, as the years progressed and the population grew exponentially, critics of the policy decried the unfairness of it.
A bill last week was introduced by the ruling Likud Party that called for an increase in military service time, particularly for reserve forces, yet failed to discuss the ultra-Orthodox issue. Backlash from both opposition and coalition members was swift.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the time said, “The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”
Halevi’s comments were his first on the highly contentious issue.
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Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas
A legal brief documenting the kidnapping, rape, torture and executions of Israelis who are being held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza has been filed at the International Criminal Court by the Canadian-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. The 1,000-page dossier documents the brutality of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, which killed […]