"We believe the Messiah can come any day."
Location: Rabbi Akiva Street, Bnei Brak
The encounter: I met Gila in Bnei Brak, an ultra-orthodox city south of Herzeliya, where she was shopping with her husband. The interview was a bit rushed because we were standing on a busy sidewalk and Gila was eager to follow her husband who had disappeared into a store. When I asked if I could take her picture, she hesitated and went to ask for husband’s opinion. “Why not?” he responded when I explained my project to him.
What are you doing here right now?
We live in Yitzhar, a settlement near Shem [the Hebrew name for Nablus]. We’re here for a day of shopping, because there’s not much to buy where we live. This is the nearest city for us.
What is your occupation?
I stay at home with my children.
How do you describe your religious or national identity?
My nationality is of course Jewish. As for religion, we are Breslavs: we follow the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav [a mystical branch of Hasidic Judaism].
Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I’ve been married for 5 years and I have three small children.
Where is your family from?
I was born here, but my parents are from Australia. They immigrated to Israel shortly after they got married, around thirty years ago. They believed that Israel is the country of the Jews, so they came here. My grandparents still live in Australia. I’ve visited Australia only twice. My parents have nine children, so they didn’t travel easily.
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
I’m hoping for the coming of the Messiah. Very, very much so! We believe the Messiah can come any day. In the meantime, we just pray and strengthen our faith. Rabbi Nachman says that when the messiah comes, he will conquer the world without firing one shot; just through the power of love. That’s what we’re waiting for.