Beshert | Shedding Our Flak Jackets

By | Jul 12, 2023
Yael Lavie, her husband and her children

I was not supposed to get married. By the time I reached the age of 39, everyone, including myself, had accepted the fact that it was not meant to be for me. It seemed beshert that I’d have no beshert.

Why? Because I’m a career journalist, who at age 39 was known to my closest friends as a “News-Nun.” Decades of covering war zones for various networks rendered me undatable schedule-wise and terrifying to men profession-wise. I had spent years in and out of Middle Eastern hotspots covering events, including ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom,’ the second intifada near Arafat’s bunker in Ramallah, and the second Lebanon war. I felt most comfortable in a flak Jacket and a helmet, which scared most of the men I liked.

In 2011, after weeks of covering the Arab Spring, I took six months off to write a book about the Iraq war media coverage. My good friend Itai Anghel, an Israeli conflict zone reporter himself, had promised to write the blurb for the back cover. As he was taking his time with it, I called him to rush the promise before the book went to print. I caught Itai in the edit room “crashing” a piece to air about the Kurdish offensive against ISIL. 

“Oh honey,” he said, “I am so sorry I took my time but guess what, I am sitting with the best video editor alive and, like you, he speaks German. Here, you two should chat in German.” 

He proceeded to hand the phone over to the German-speaking editor, Oded. I said hello in German and lamented Itai’s sense of humor. Oded agreed with me in perfect Deutsch and ordered Itai to write the blurb. I liked him immediately. The second the call was over I found him on Facebook and sent him a note. He answered almost instantly. We corresponded for three weeks, at which point I suggested we meet for coffee and he promptly disappeared for a week. Later he would claim that he got spooked by my forwardness. Luckily, he got over it and we finally met in person. 

Yael Lavie and her husband Oded

Yael Lavie and her beshert, Oded Toury. (Credit: Yael Lavie)

On our second date, he spoke about having children with me, which is when I got spooked and bolted for two weeks. 

But he persisted. Two months into a push and pull dance, we’d realized that we come from similar backgrounds—both our parents were refugees when they arrived in Israel in the early 30s, and our extended families survived the Holocaust (why we speak German). Working in the same field, we shared the neurosis that comes along with storytelling in times of war, when relationships feel neither permanent nor safe. 

Soon after, Oded suggested that we move in together, arguing that in our late 30s, what’s the point of waiting? I had lived alone my entire adult life and liked my independence; living with someone terrified me more than the next war. But I liked his conviction, and he was right, there was no point to waiting. Within six months of living together, we got married for the same reason. 

Twelve years later we have two beautiful children and have made three documentary films together. 

After all the wars I’ve covered, I can attest that maintaining a lifelong relationship is the hardest thing I will ever do. But, as my surprise beshert tells me, “It’s worth every second.”

Yael Lavie working in Iraq

Yael Lavie working in Tikrit, Iraq, 2003. (Credit: Yael Lavie)

Yael Lavie is an American-Israeli Emmy Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and independent filmmaker covering the Middle East and Europe. She has produced and reported for ABC News; Sky News; I24, the international news TV channel; and, an emerging markets online news site. She is also the author of War Producer and has produced documentaries for Israeli primetime TV. Currently, Lavie serves as adjunct lecturer and research fellow in media ethics at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications at IDC University in Herzelia. Her husband, Oded Toury, is a film editor. They live with their two children, Omer and Lia, in Tel Aviv. 

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