73 episodes

Israel Story is an award-winning podcast that tells true stories you won't hear on the news. Hosted by Mishy Harman, the bi-weekly show brings you extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis. The show is produced in partnership with Tablet Magazine. For Hebrew episodes, see סיפור ישראלי, or go to our website: israelstory.org

Israel Story Israel Story

    • Judaism
    • 4.8 • 936 Ratings

Israel Story is an award-winning podcast that tells true stories you won't hear on the news. Hosted by Mishy Harman, the bi-weekly show brings you extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis. The show is produced in partnership with Tablet Magazine. For Hebrew episodes, see סיפור ישראלי, or go to our website: israelstory.org

    Bonus: Unpacking Israeli History

    Bonus: Unpacking Israeli History

    Today, we bring you an episode from a new podcast that launched earlier this month: Unpacking Israeli History. The episode delves into the topic of how the Hebrew language was revived and why on earth that matters.
    Enjoy, and we'll be back next week.
     
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    • 29 min
    57: “Alone, Together” Part VII - Something Like A Brother

    57: “Alone, Together” Part VII - Something Like A Brother

    Stories matter. They have the power of connecting us over time and space. And in the finale of our “Alone, Together” miniseries, we see how a podcast episode turned two strangers - a man from Migdal HaEmek, Israel, and a woman from Porto Alegre, Brazil - into soulmates.  


    Porto Alegre is a large city in the south of Brazil, a five-hour drive from the border with Uruguay. Five rivers converge there, making it an important center of industry and commerce. Though its name means “joyful harbor,” in 2017, Porto Alegre ranked as the world’s 39th most violent city, with nearly 41 homicides per 100,000 residents. And while the city does have a sizable Jewish community, primarily Eastern Europeans who founded the local União Israelita association and settled in the Bom Fim neighborhood, there are no direct flights from Porto Alegre to Tel Aviv. So why, you might wonder, is Porto Alegre featured in the final episode of a series exploring life in Israel during the pandemic?


    Porto Alegre is home to Isabel Christina de Oliveira, a 54-year-old public school teacher. Isabel isn’t Jewish and has never been to Israel. But through Israel Story, and over Zoom, she found an unlikely friend with whom she could share a terribly painful experience. 


    Back in March, Isabel traveled to Italy. Unbeknownst to her, she contracted the virus in Bergamo, and brought it back to Brazil. She was the first COVID-19 patient in her region. And though she immediately went into quarantine, she was publicly shamed and blamed, especially on social media. Vicious posts accused her of infecting the country and made her feel incredibly guilty. 


    If all that sounds familiar, you are not mistaken: In episode 52, “In The Beginning”, we told a similar story about Roni Bargill, Israel’s patient no. 7. Under normal circumstances, Isabel and Roni would have never met. But Isabel’s daughter’s friend, a Brazilian journalist by the name of Giovana Fleck, listened to the Israel Story episode, and translated it for Isabel. The emotional upheaval they had each experienced was uncannily similar. 


    That’s where our team came in once again, arranging a Zoom call that left everyone in tears. 


    Joel Shupack scored and sound-designed this episode with music from Blue Dot Sessions, and Sela Waisblum created the mix. The end song, “Kore Li Kol” (A Voice is Calling) is by Dotan Moshonov. 


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    • 30 min
    56: "Alone, Together" Part VI - Six Feet (Under)

    56: "Alone, Together" Part VI - Six Feet (Under)

    Israel's one thousandth COVID-19 casualty passed away this weekend. And for all of us, death has sadly been an ever-present part of life over the past six months. In the penultimate episode of our "Alone, Together" series, we bring you two stories about dying in times of Corona.  


    Over the course of this series, we’ve shared many stories of Israelis dealing - in completely different ways - with COVID-19. We’ve heard people express fear, disappointment, shame, anger, hope and acceptance. We’ve told tales of coexistence and discrimination, nightmares and dreams, resilience and panic. But one thing shared by everyone we have encountered in the series thus far is that they have all - thankfully - survived the pandemic. Some got sick, others didn’t, but all lived to tell the tale. 


    That, however, isn’t true of everyone. More than 1,000 Israelis have died of the disease as of early September 2020. In a country of roughly nine million, that’s about 0.0112% of the population. The mortality rate of infected patients is hovering around 0.6%. And while, both those figures are lower than most other countries, there is no doubt that COVID-19 has claimed many victims in Israel. And in our episode today we explore what it looks like to die of, or during, COVID-19. 


    Yochai Maital and Joel Shupack scored and sound-designed this episode, with music from Blue Dot Sessions, Esther Abrami, and Papalin. The end song, “No More Corona,” is by Shai and Galit Dagan. 


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    • 39 min
    55: “Alone, Together” Part V - Enjoy Your Stay

    55: “Alone, Together” Part V - Enjoy Your Stay

    Around the world, the tourism industry essentially dried up during the pandemic. But in Israel there was one category of hotels - the so-called “Corona Hotels” - that actually thrived. And depending on whom you ask, they were either a post-apocalyptic heaven or an exit-less hell.

    In March 2020, Israel - like many other countries around the world - closed its borders. Since then, according to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics, international tourism has dropped by some 99%. Hotel rooms emptied out, busy lobbies went silent, and those famous Israeli breakfast buffets remained uneaten. While you might assume this spelled the end for most hospitality establishments in Israel, there were actually some hotels that managed not only to stay open, but indeed to stay full. These were hotels leased by the government to serve as “Corona Hotels” and host two distinct populations: Israelis who had already contracted the virus and were waiting until they were no longer contagious and could safely return home, and Israelis returning from abroad who needed to make sure they weren’t bringing coronavirus into the country.

    Corona Hotels brought complete strangers into close, and prolonged, contact. Unsurprisingly, many of the “guests” were from segments of the population that don’t typically mix and mingle. At times this melting-pot-like experiment created friction, but it also allowed for unusual interactions to occur. Forced to cohabitate, people had to learn to get along, and—in some cases at least—even respect each other.

    Our episode today examines two different Corona Hotel experiences - one a heartwarming tale of coexistence, the other a dark account of agony.

    The episode was mixed by Sela Waisblum and scored by Joel Shupack with music from Blue Dot Sessions and sound-design help from Yochai Maital. The end song, “Bomba,” is by Hadag Nahash and Johnny Goldstein.

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    • 1 hr 4 min
    54: “Alone, Together” Part IV - The Lifesavers

    54: “Alone, Together” Part IV - The Lifesavers

    The global pandemic has introduced us to many “lifesavers”—doctors, nurses, and medical staff who are on the frontlines day in and day out. But what happens when those ‘superheroes’ need to be saved themselves? And can saving a life end up saving your life, too?

    If, God forbid, you find yourself in a medical emergency in Israel, you dial 101 for Magen David Adom. Yet more often than not, before an ambulance shows up, someone else—often riding a motorcycle and donning a bright orange vest—will appear on the scene. These are the volunteer medics of a national organization called United Hatzalah, or Ichud Hatzalah in Hebrew. And those extra moments? They can literally be the difference between life and death.

    Ichud Hatzalah responds to roughly 1,800 calls a day, and has—according to the Israeli Heart Society—reduced the rate of cardiac-arrest deaths in Israel by as much as 50%. Private emergency medical services exist around the world, of course. But Ichud Hatzalah is unique: While most focus on a specific neighborhood or community, they cover the entire country. Their volunteers are Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, religious, secular, you name it. And what’s more, their services are completely free. The organization is the brainchild of a Jerusalemite who—for more than three decades now—has been single-mindedly focused on one goal: saving as many lives as possible.

    But what happens when, in the midst of a global pandemic, this lifesaver needs to saved himself? Being saved, we learn, can often be harder than it seems.

    The episode was mixed by Sela Waisblum and scored by Joel Shupack with music from Blue Dot Sessions and sound-design help from Yochai Maital. The end song, “Refa Tziri” is sung by Akiva Turgeman, Ariel Zilber, Berry Sakharof, Amir Benayoun, and Lior Elmaliach. The words are from a piyyut, or Jewish liturgical poem, written by Rabbi Raphael Antebi Tabbush of Aleppo, Syria (1853-1919), and the melody is attributed to a Judeo-Spanish song called “Triste Vida” (‘A Sad Life’).


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    • 43 min
    53: “Alone, Together” Part III - Gevalt

    53: “Alone, Together” Part III - Gevalt

    Israel’s ultra-orthodox community was hit twice during COVID-19: First, and in disproportionate numbers, by the virus itself, and then by a wave of anti-Haredi sentiment that pervaded the country. Here’s what it looked like from their perspective.

    When COVID-19 first hit Israel, many of its epicenters were in Haredi, or Ultra-Orthodox, communities. More than one-third of coronavirus tests in Bnei Brak, for instance, came back positive. Some pointed a finger to the pervasive poverty and crowded dwellings, others to the packed yeshivas and mass prayers. And many pundits found an easy culprit in certain defiant rabbis who ordered their followers to ignore the public health guidelines and go on with life as normal. Before long, matters escalated, and with a climbing case count, the media reports became increasingly vicious, and a wave of anti-Haredi sentiment swept through the country.

    In an attempt to stop, or at least slow down, the spread of the virus, the government deployed soldiers to Haredi cities and neighborhoods. These uniformed men and women recited social-distancing guidelines, told people to wear masks, dished out fines, and enforced strict curfews and lockdowns. But if you imagine soldiers and policemen chatting away with Haredim on street corners and sharing humorous Yiddishisms, think again. Many clashes ensued, and some of them turned violent.

    In this unusual episode, we don’t tell the story of a central character with a clear plotline. Instead, we spent months collecting testimonies from everyday Haredi men and women who give us a glimpse into the sheltered world of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

    The episode was mixed by Sela Waisblum. “Gevalt” was scored and sound-designed by Yochai Maital, together with original music composed and performed by Ari Jacob. The rest of the episode was sound-designed and scored by Joel Shupack with music from Blue Dot Sessions. The end song, “Keter Melukha” (“Royal Crown”) is by Ishay Ribo, and was written and recorded during lockdown.


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    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
936 Ratings

936 Ratings

Baking 4 fun today ,

I feel a little closer to you

I have enjoyed every episode so far but I especially love the Alone Together series! It is good to hear how other countries are dealing with Covid. We are not really alone, we really are alone together. I highly recommend that you listen to these episodes.

pstvrch ,

Every episode moves me

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this podcast- drop everything and stream or download an episode. The stories are so moving- I have such a range of emotions each and every episode, laughing, crying and feeling rejuvenated.
The stories are thoughtful and have a new spin each and every episode. Listen in Hebrew or English- these stories are about human beings at their core.

Minna's daughter ,

Love this podcast

Wonderful podcast

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