Sunday, August 5, 2012

On Being Humbled...

We have been here for a little over a year and I still love this Land.  I still love the fact that I don't have to explain "being Jewish." I love the fact that Shabbat is not just Saturday, but a holy and blessed day that is recognized as such.  I'm quite aware that while Israel is not a panacea for Judaism (some might say its the exact opposite), I know that this is where I am supposed to be and that it is through G-d's miraculous grace that I get to live my history and be part of its continued existence.  And I say all of that with my feet planted on the ground, and my head nowhere near the clouds.

Mostly.  I've decided to embrace my "inner dreamer" rather than fight it 'cause it usually wins anyway.  Leaving the States took a lot of dreaming, so I've simply decided to run with it. But dreams need a firm foundation from which to grow... and ours is still being nourished and cared for.  The seeds have taken root and an occasional leaf or bud have been spotted, but I realize that we have kilometers and kilometers to go before we sleep.  And the fact  that I didn't write "miles and miles" took a level of restraint you cannot even imagine.

I left the States with a secured telecommuting job.  For reasons that are not important here, I am no longer employed.  I was with the company for almost 10 years, so not being there caused me to feel grief, sadness, and yes, to mourn; all ironic feelings considering I worked for a hospice.  I am grateful for everything I learned and the people I worked with.  But alas, I was no longer meant to be where I was, and though sad, I am grateful for what lies ahead.  See, I knew "it" was coming and believe that "it" was G-D's way of saying, "Rachel, you weren't gonna leave, so I made it happen!"  A clever One, indeed.

Though my job was not what I'd call an easy one (Entertaining?  Often... but not always easy), I feel now like I took the easy way out.  I had a job, I had a paycheck, I had familiarity in the face of tremendous change, and I stuck with what and whom I knew.  You may agree, or not, but I know myself and that not being professionally challenged was not always the wisest choice.   I also know that the somewhat faux sense of security I allowed myself was not so smart either.  I am *now* taking care of getting my social work credentials recognized by the State of Israel, which is something I should've done months ago.  I've also officially joined the Israeli job search market, to which I can only say, "oh goodie."

Folks don't choose social work because they think they'll get rich.  That's sort of like saying teachers go into their profession for the respect, and garbage men for the unique fragrance.  I do not think that all poorly paid professions are full of 'angels on earth' though. I've met some mean social workers who give all of us a REALLY bad name, nurses who don't care about patients in pain, and teachers who should never be allowed near children.  The vast majority of folks though *are* good people with good intentions, good skills and a true desire to fulfill a professional and personal mission.  I chose social work because I was kind of born into it.  Assorted life events shaped my desire to want to help others and I can't think of anything that speaks to me as strongly.  I love, LOVE, to sing and crochet (and might I add have become one heckuva snood maker), but my passion is in working with people.  Israel better look out, 'cause I'm gonna help you process your feelings till the flock-of-the-season comes home.  Now how does THAT make ya' feel!

I have learned that social workers in Israel make even less money than they do in the States.  That makes me want to cry, laugh, and shake my head in that "Oh dear G-D...Are you SERIOUS??" kind of way.  But I knew going into social work anywhere wasn't about the bucks, er... shekels.  Still, the notion that once you reach a "certain age (and I'm not all that sure what that age is)," you shouldn't have to start from scratch or prove yourself, lingers in my mind.  I grew up with old school notions about work, work ethics, and establishing oneself with a "good job."  But what comes to mind as I type that is the image of the 60+ year old woman who enrolled in graduate school the same year as I.  While everyone 'poo-poo'd' her and how amazing it was that she was starting a new career at "her age," she treated it as her time to grow.  She'd raised 9 kids, had a multitude of grandkids, and though she'd given so much to the world, she wanted professionally to give that much more.  She might have thought she was no big deal, but to many of us she was. 

I am, I guess one could say, in the midst of getting over myself.  I rely heavily on my ability to communicate and am still restricted by my ability to do so in Hebrew.  I am "the mom" and believe that my job as an "educator" to my kids is crucial.  And yet, it was my 17 year old who taught me how to say "traffic light" and "bubble" this weekend.  Basic, basic things that I still have yet to learn. And though I'm pretty sure no one's life has ever hung in the balance because of those two words, it was humbling to learn them from one of my children nonetheless. I love hospice social work and dare I say, I think I'm pretty good at it.  I know that I can command a team of professionals in serving a patient's needs, coordinate with the best of 'em, and walk away knowing I did the very best I could.  As I enter the world of Israeli social work, I'll have to assess feelings and pain in Hebrew and pray that I do so in a way that doesn't alienate folks who can hear my American accent even before I open my mouth.  Quite humbling indeed.

I'm up for the challenges of re-establishing myself, or more aptly, re-re-establishing myself.  Truth be told, I don't have much of a choice, but that's because I refuse to pack my life up again and move it across the water;  I think having my couches in a crate on the Mediterranean once is more than enough! I cannot work off the professional reputation I built in Chicago, and must create one anew.  I cannot rely, yet, at least, upon my ability to articulate my thoughts with the urgency they deserve.  This process isn't only about learning to adapt to change, but digging deeper into who I am and who I am supposed to be here

 I am excited, I am nervous, and I'm working hard at pushing all the "what-ifs" aside.  Because what if I make an even better life for myself and my family here?  And what if I contribute to a part of the world that needs compassion and understanding?  And what if I learn to love all this uncharted territory and become healthier for it?  Time will tell for sure, but as I journey forward I know that I'll continue to be greatly humbled by the challenges I face.


  1. You're the best! My money is on you!!
    Auntie M

  2. Go for it Rachel.."Go for the gold"!!! They'll love u Aviva L

  3. Thank you ladies. I have the best Auntie M on the planet and some of the kindest, most thoughtful friends that exist. Thank you so, so much....

  4. You are an amazing person ..But I have always told you that KUDOs my friend and onward you go !

    Much Love !!!!

  5. Rachel, I learn so much from you! I think you're doing an amazing job acclimating yourself and your family to life in Israel. So happy we shared this journey together and continue to share all the ups and downs for many years to come.