What are the Odds?
By Samantha Vinokor
To say that I’m bad at math would be a gross understatement.
From the time I was in middle school, it’s been a struggle. Words I understand, facts I can absorb, but the basics of numbers? I’m pretty much a lost cause. To clarify, this isn’t an exaggeration: I add on my fingers, or the calculator on my phone. I’ve been living in Israel for two years, and still can’t convert dollars to shekels, liters to gallons, or kilometers to miles in my head. I’ve given up on ever being able to figure out how much to tip, or even how to divide a bill, and I accept that about myself.
The majority of us landed in Israel with a basic knowledge of the language, a big dream and a small suitcase.
But the past month in Jerusalem has turned me into a mathematical wizard, in the most morbid way possible. I’ve had to call upon skills that I thought I lost the moment I turned in my SAT paper.
What’s the probability that my fiancé was on the light rail today?
If I know six men who live in Har Nof, what are the odds that one of them was in synagogue this morning?
How many sirens do I have to count to know that this is more than a routine emergency?
What’s the average number of times it’s acceptable to call a friend before giving in to the mounting dread that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time?
How many Israelis are living this crazy way, making sure that we know where all of our loved ones are at all times, keeping one finger constantly refreshing the latest news, while putting the rest of our energy into the sacred task of continuing with our routines in the face of terror?
How long can this go on?
We’ve counted the days that our boys were missing. We’ve counted the number of times that we were woken up by sirens, and the number of rockets that have fallen on our country. We’ve counted the dead.
What are the odds that this will be our last war?
Samantha Vinokor is the Director of Marketing and Recruitment for Budokan Israel, a Masa program specializing in Martial Arts and Fitness. She is also pursuing a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Samantha is a recent olah chadasha. More about her freelance work, experiential education initiatives, and blogging can be found here.