As we enjoy our Thankgiving weekend, I wanted to tell you something I am very thankful for. I am thankful for the chance to live. I wanted to relate the current news to my personal life, and offer a story to you.

As I hope everyone knows, there have been horrible terrorists incidents in India the past few days. This is all very hard for me to hear; not only are innocent civilans being brutally murdered, but more so my Jewish family, and even more so, in a building I spend time in and felt comfortable in a scary city all alone.

Landing in India was the scariest thing I had ever done in my life until that point. Was I crazy? I was going alone to India, as a white woman, knowing nothing. All I knew was that apparently a lot of Israelis travelled there and hopefully I wouldn't be alone.

I had a fun time on the beaches of Goa and in the small towns, but when I got to Mumbai, a city of 15 million, I was overwhelmed. I stayed in basically a closet, and didn't feel safe; the city was dark and dirty, and I was alone. I was lucky enough, after a lot of searching, to find the Chabad house of Mumbai. My safe haven and refuge. Even though Chabad is run by Orthodox Jews, most people who walk in their doors feel comfortable even though not religious. Chabad provides a warm home away from home and a way for Jews to connect, and so importantly for me, a way to connect with people to travel with, who understand me on a base level.

I sat in the beautiful Chabad building for Shabbat at a table with a guy who went to UNC, and his father is actually the chair of UNC sociology and gave me my diploma. He told me about a school in Jerusalem I might like if I want to learn more about traditional Judaism. If it wasn't for Mumbai Chabad, I might not be where I am today.

I walked in the Taj Mahal hotel, I spent two months in India, very clearly an American. All I can say in this situation is that I am fortunate. All I can say is please keep the rabbi and his wife and the other Israelis held hostage in the Chabad house in your prayers. Please keep the other hostages in your prayers, and pray for the comfort of those families who lost someone in these horrific attacks.

Just wanted to share my personal experience and relate the terrible, terrible news so you could understand it on a more personal level. Have a wonderful Shabbat, or weekend enjoying friends and family, savoring and being sure to really live the gift of life we have been given.

Robin, Chapel Hill, NC