Monday, September 26, 2011

Evolution of a Dream...

In the past few days I've asked myself why I'm here.  I came to this country with a whole lot of dreams, some wishful thinking, and tremendous intent.  But its hard to live day in and day out missing your loved ones, your creature comforts, and not, say, wake up to this week's version of "As the Hafganah (protest) Turns."  Factor in the energy it takes to communicate in Hebrew (Oh, how I long for the day when I can skim an article and understand it), and you've got yourself a fairly large, international headache.

I do a fair share of crying.  I'm lying; I do *everybody's* fair share of crying.  I'm a mush on a good day, so the taxing ones, difficult ones, and downright painful ones pry open the flood gates like Niagara
Falls.  I find myself crying about different things-  missing Chicago, missing my friends, missing walls with colors other than the very safe yellow and eggshell the kablan (builder) used on our rented home. Then there's the sheer volume of everything going on in my life, not to mention the amount of Goliath-like strength we need to raise 4 children, 3 of whom are teenagers.  The phrase "G-D give me strength" is uttered quite often 'round here.

But as I sat on our mirpeset
(porch) this past Shabbat reading a rather good book about a murderous child (how's that for relaxing content?), I realized that the lines that divide my life before and after Aliyah are blurring in a big, and relatively surprising, way. I'm a big believer in boundaries, as in, please respect my space and I'll respect yours, but this is one of those rare times when blurry lines are not a bad thing.  There are times I find myself pining for the things I miss (my kingdom for a car!), but I find myself kind of enjoying the life we're creating here.  I don't relish the reenactment of the bumpy bus rides of my youth, I'm still not entirely sure why skim milk, in a land working towards a cure for Alzheimer's, is such a big deal, and I have a hard time wrapping my head around why every surface needs to be on a slant.  Does no one else in Israel enjoy walking on flat surfaces?  Geez....

Ironically, I can't necessarily say I love this, that, or the other thing, about Israel.  I find that I'm back to that rather comfortable place of simply knowing and sensing the intangible. Israel is, I believe with my heart and soul, a sensory playground
.  I feel it, I see it, I hear it- but please don't ask me to explain it.  Though I really get, now that I'm no longer in the States, just how connected and attached I was to the customs of my youth and the routines of my adulthood, what I understand more is that, for me at least, the US contained a tangible absence of everything I feel here.  My cup overfloweth with the amount of spiritual fulfillment I have here.

Tonight's unity rally in Beit
Shemesh, despite the fact that we've had rally after rally, after protest after rally, strengthened me in ways that I needed.   Being here for not even 3 months is, in my estimation, way too soon to feel the passion burn out.  But dealing with folks who protest the existence of the Jews I most identify with, gets really old really fast.   I credit this group of extremists with raining on my Aliyah parade and frankly, resent them for it.  Perhaps they didn't get the memo, but the first year post-move involves backbreaking labor and thusly, does not need additional junk added to it.  I mean, what's a little misguided hatred in the name of G-D added to the adjustment to a new country, new schools, and a new language?

So you can understand then why I was a little surprised (OK, a lot surprised) to find myself, while still in the midst of resentment and feelings of disgust that follow me like a puppy, a bit grateful to these zealots for the ways in which they've left "the other side" no choice BUT to unify.  Trust me, I'm not going to send out personal thank you cards and would have been just fine if they hadn't done some of the despicable things they have.  Still, being part of a crowd singing HaTikva
(Israel's national anthem about hope), Am Yisrael Chai (The Nation of Israel Lives), and being privileged to hear representatives from assorted parts of our community, made me feel that "Od Lo Avadeti Tikvateinu,"  *I* have still not lost (our) hope."  I know why I came to this Land.  It is, and dare I sound hokey and American, my Land and was made for (you and) me.  It is a gift to all Jews, no matter how they dress, what they look like, or the language they speak.  My intentions are to establish myself as a contributing member of the national and religious communities, no- to the JEWISH community.  My dream, and when I dream I dream big, is to be part of something that unifies Jews of every shape and color. Real life and I have, once again, become intimately acquainted, but I simply refuse to stop dreaming.  I came to Israel to live an authentic Jewish life where shofar (ram's horn) blowing is the norm, where you have to go out of your way to find non-kosher food, and where Good Shabbos can be heard from bus drivers and grandmas alike.

Something crystallized for me tonight.  See, Beit Shemesh's fight is MY fight.  We all want to be heard and acknowledged and respected, even though sometimes the means to that end are about as backwards as they come.  But I can really understand now that  I'm part of something so much bigger than myself and my family.  I am truly a piece of a very old and very meaningful puzzle.  My dreams are no longer just in my head, but what I live every single day. There are more dreams from whence the original batch came, and I'm choosing to savor each one. My blurry lined dreams now lend themselves to a very real, integrated way of living.  They helped me get to Israel and will help me ultimately grow into who and what I have the potential to be. 


  1. hang in there! after 20+ years here i still get teary eyed at hatikva (much to my daughter's embarrassment) but i find that it's mostly the little things that make me glad to be home. you probably will always miss your family in chul (as you should) but eventually you'll make new friends who will ease the pain of missing them.
    wishing you a shana tova and continued easy adjustment!

  2. Are you reading "We have to talk about Kevin"?
    So with you on the skim milk thing.
    The rest...blah, blah...
    I love your sentiments and feelings. This is an amazing place we have chosen to live in. Have you seen the Shana Tova on the buses? I love it!

  3. Sarah... that's EXACTLY the book.. too funny!!! I'm sitting near a Coke Zero bottle with Chag Sameach on it. Somehow, that just does it for me!

  4. One of the best books I have ever read! I miss my book club...
    I LOVE the chag sameach Diet Coke and Neviot water. I posted pics on my blog.