Thursday, February 16, 2012

This One's For the Kids...

There were a gazillion things, at least, to consider and plan for when we made Aliyah.  One of those things, or four of those things to be specific, were our kids.  We visited schools, discussed special needs issues, medical stuff, where they'd be able to, hopefully, make friends, and then went for it.  There's only so much you can plan for and only so much you can hope and pray will fall into place before you just close your eyes, leap into the great unknown, and live your new life. 

We're 7+ months
in now and it dawned on me that we have 3 and a half teens (Our 10 year old has his days, thus the half) whose lives were in flux BEFORE they ever got on that plane!  All the ups, downs and sideways' adolescence brings are enough to make anyone wonder if, on some days, they can actually flush their head in the nearest toilet.  The highs are higher than the moon, and the lows supersede even the worst Kinneret water levels.  Yet, here they are, all four traipsing through our dream and doing so at the most change-filled periods of their lives.  If they haven't already thought it I'll just say it.  Guys, your parents are NUTS!

When I go back to the grand time that was my adolescence, I'm brought back
to a statement my dad, Z"L, made many times over; "[Your teen years] will be some of the best and some of the worst in your life."  'Twas a lovely sentiment at times, but bore itself out as truth more times than I can count.  While my children's teen years are not fraught with the same types of drama mine were, they are drama-filled still.  From rumor mills, to untimely deaths, to fizzled friendships, to expected transitions, each experience they've gone through is meaningful in some way.  I always hated, and still do, when people told me that what I was feeling was 'no big deal,' or that I'd simply 'get over it.'  That may have ultimately happened, but acknowledging the feeling in that moment would've been far more appropriate.  That said, I can't help but wonder how my kids are dealing with each of those types of moments- and Aliyah.

We've tried passionately to teach them about
what Israel means to us as Jews, individuals, a family and a people.  I think, and pray, that we've done a fairly good job there. But let's be real, OK?  If one of the kids had said "I'm not going," would we have actually left them in Chicago with sufficient food, clothing and stamps?  Would we have actually left them and said we'd call when we got here?  Of course not!  And I know this for fact because a certain then 12 year old needed to be pushed down the foyer to the El Al plane in New York after he, quite literally, dug his heels into the ground, shook his head no, and said he wasn't moving.  Yeah, he's sitting in school in Ramat Beit Shemesh right now, so clearly that was a battle he wasn't going to win.

Through thick, thin, and everything in between, we have tried to demonstrate
 to our kids that they are valuable simply because they breathe.  They don't have to be the best at any thing because they're being on the planet speaks for itself.  They are each imperfectly perfect, unique, and really, quite awesome.  That doesn't mean that they don't have particular skills we're proud of them for and others that they need to develop, but our love is not contingent on either. 

So my valuable little ones, who are all as tall if not taller than me, I offer these words to you.  Yes, we're proud of you, and yes, we love you more than it is
possible to ever adequately describe.  But we are also in true awe of you.  I don't know how you do it, really.  You're in a different country, a different culture with rules that often defy logic, or at least the logic we were all used to, and yet, I see each of you smile at least once a day.  I see you grow and mature (yes, EACH of you!) consistently.  I see you grabbing a hold of a language that scares some of us (me and Abba included), and I see you persevere every single day.  You know it hasn't been sunshine and roses all the time and that we have many more mountains to climb before our lives here feel normal, or as close as possible.  I respect you for your ability to express your homesickness (guess who gets it too...), your ability to tell us what you love and what you can't stand about Israel, and above all, that you're willing to stick it out for the long haul.

I don't think I could have withstood the challenge
of Aliyah when I was 10, 13, 15 or 16, but then again, I wasn't given the opportunity to know.  I was given lots of other opportunities, but learning how to live in the Middle East was not part of my bouquet of teen experiences.  You have each demonstrated a level of courage, appropriate chutzpah, and growing pains.  Folks give Abba and I a ton of credit for making Aliyah, for leaving the comforts of Chicago, our family, our friends, and the lives we worked hard to create.  But we're the grown ups (on most days anyway...) and while change is hard, we're old enough to pull on past experiences to help us navigate the waters.  You guys are so blessedly young and have trusted us through out the process.  While I'll admit that getting credit for making Aliyah feels nice, I think that you guys ought to get a lot of credit too.  Being a kid at any age can be tough, but you're imperfectly perfecting the ability to do so in this Holiest of Lands.  In short, I am in awe- simple, unrequited awe, of your willingness to adapt.  Of course I'm also blown away by the amazing inheritabilty of our tenacity.  Perhaps your ability to make your parents look not-so-stubborn at all has finally found its place!


  1. Man, these allergies of mine are really acting up...must be very dusty here at work...