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A letter from an Israeli in Manchester

Our movement worker, Ortal Havshush, writes about being in lockdown during the pandemic and says her goodbyes as her year in FZY comes to an end.


Day 30:

So... Heaton Park again?


A week before the lockdown started I travelled to London for a team fun day. Something in the air was different. There was no official lockdown but people took a step away from others, keeping social distance. Coronavirus was huge outside of the UK, and it was getting bigger here as well. I knew something was wrong with this government, and I kept asking myself and others why they aren’t doing anything. Why are they just waiting for people to die?


A week later my 2 shinshiniot from Manchester left. They were sent back to Israel until everything went back to normal. Perhaps after Passover. I felt sad; we had so many good memories together. Something about them leaving was telling me bad news was about to come.


A few days later all flights from Manchester to Israel got cancelled. Lockdown started. No face to face sessions, no leaving the house. I stocked up from Tesco and just decided to stay at home until everything would go away.


My birthday came along, followed by Passover. I celebrated them alone. No families were invited and to be honest I wouldn’t want to put anyone at risk. I was talking to my family and friends but I felt so lonely. Passover is always celebrated with lots of family around and spending it alone was upsetting.

During lockdown I learned a lot about myself. I learned to admire nature. Especially the beautiful parks and forests surrounding me in Prestwich. I learned to appreciate my family more and the people who love me back in Israel. Like most of us, Zoom calls were on repeat, and to be frankly honest I had had enough of them. It’s just not the same as meeting someone face to face. But life has to go on you know?



Coronavirus changed a lot of the life that we used to know and love. I personally believe that we’re facing a new era, a new world. Things will not go back to the normality we used to know, but we need to embrace it and accept it.


I learned that taking care of yourself, not just in the physical aspect but also mentally, is the most important thing you can do. Always do whatever makes you feel happy and calm. Don’t take nonsense from anyone, and always keep the people you love the most next to you. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. That thing you want to do? That place you want to explore? Do it today. Go there now. You never know what might change in a split of a second.


I would like to take this opportunity to say goodbye to the beautiful people who make FZY the youth movement it is. Even though I came here alone, you guys made me feel welcomed and loved: the chanichim, the bogrim, the team. Leaving your family and friends behind is never easy but you guys made it a little bit easier.


Your love and passion for Israel and its people was the thing that kept me going through hard times. Your kindness and Zionism are the two things I will take with me from this experience.


My time here may have come to an end, but you will always stay in my heart. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t disappointed to hear my job here was over. But I’m sure Manchester FZY will grow stronger and stronger due to its amazing members.


Take care and stay safe,

Ortal x

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