For six years, Lower Merion’s Hadas Kuznits has traveled the world covering events for KYW-AM 1060. Last May, the reporter visited Israel as the nation celebrated its 60th anniversary, providing updates on her lively video blog at kyw1060.com. Highlights included an interview with Yael Dayan, deputy mayor of Tel Aviv and daughter of founding father Moshe Dayan. Kuznits also provided standout coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where she had a chance encounter with Oprah Winfrey in an elevator. We caught up with Kuznits just before she jetted off to Southeast Asia to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
MLT: You left Israel at age 2, but you’ve returned numerous times and grew up in a Hebrew-speaking household. When did you truly begin to appreciate the connection to your homeland?
HK: When I was a junior at Akiba (now Jack Barrack Hebrew Academy), I spent a semester studying in Jerusalem with some of my classmates. We lived in a youth village with Jewish kids from all over the world, but I kept gravitating toward Israelis. I’d been struggling with my identity most of my life, but I came home much more aware of—and comfortable with—my Jewish identity.
MLT: How does your experience as an American differ from that of your Israeli peers?
HK: There’s a much higher level of political awareness in Israel among young people. My Israeli friends and cousins there always know what’s going on, what the chain of command is. Here, it’s much easier to tune out. Israelis feel much more directly affected by what is happening around them. One of the reasons that I got into news is because I recognized the need to be involved, and how that helps transform policy.
MLT: What led you to join the Israeli army—especially when you’re a citizen here?
HK: When I was there during high school, the Israeli students were talking about it. So when I came home, it was on my mind. When I graduated, I told my parents this was what I wanted to do. They were not thrilled—and they were scared. At one point, my mother asked me if she could buy me a car. She thought a new car would change my mind.
MLT: What impact did army life have on you?
HK: I grew up a lot—I went in at 18 and, for the next two years, was an instructor responsible for dozens of soldiers. I also learned a lot about the peace process. One of my jobs was to translate the news. This was from ’93 to ’95; I started around the time that famous photo was taken of Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands. When I finished, Rabin had been assassinated. But I had witnessed efforts toward peace being made, and became very interested.
MLT: How does faith fit your lifestyle?
HK: The language, the politics, the contact with my relatives—it’s more important than going to synagogue. God is really in how you treat others. What’s more important than religion is to be tolerant and understanding of others. Travel is the best road to tolerance, because you can learn so much about how others live.