Tuesday, June 5, 2012

5 Months! - Some Thoughts

I know I talk / write a lot about Ulpan, but for an olah chadasha that is pretty much the center of your life for the first few months (5 months to be exact - as of yesterday). 

Your Ulpan friends become your family - you grow very close because you end up talking about your family history, your feelings, and your personal story during the conversations you have in class.  You become a very tight group and grow to really love and care for each other.  We are all going through the same issues - learning the language, navigating the bureaucracy, finding work, creating a brand new life - so we lean on each other for support. 

When one of our class found an apartment in Tel Aviv that he'd been looking for since the beginning, we almost felt like giving him a party.  The sad part for us (and him, I think) was that he left us for an Ulpan class in TA.

So today we talked aobut war. Today is June 5, the first day of the Six Day War, and June 6 was the first day of first Lebanon War in 1982.

Our teacher, a wonderful and sweet woman, very religious, who was born in Nahariya, told us that she remembers that there were no defense shelters in 1967, and that her father dug trenches for the family behind their house, where they hid when there was a siren.  I thought of myself as a 13 year old at the time, I remember my father crying and telling us how he wanted us to move to Israel (he had also told us that if Kennedy didn't win the election in 1960, we were going the next day!)

Our teacher then told us about the 1982 war in which her brother fought.  He was badly burned and when she went with her mother to see him for the first time in the hospital, her mother kept asking "Where is my son??" becasue she did not recognize him with all of his burns.  As she told this, she began crying.  We all became very quiet and sad.  She then spoke more about the wars, and was clearly extremely emotional and tearful.

We then got into a discussion about the wars, the territorial fights, peace, etc. 

At the end of the discussion, as she often does when we "argue" these types of points, she stated, "Hashem yaazor" [God will help.]

Now sometimes when people say that I feel a little angry - I mean (in my mind) God wants us to help ourselves and show Him how brave we are, how committed we are.  But this is coming from someone who has suffered through many wars and lost family in them.  She and all her family, and all of the families here who have been through these wars, have indeed shown God how brave they are.  And, in the end, they know that we look to Hashem for the ultimate help. 

All I could think of was, "THIS is living in Israel. The incredible mixture, each and every day, of the spiritual with the reality of everyday life. I am so incredibly lucky to have been able to move here.  What a bracha.  I wish more people would come and experience this."

I'm not one for telling people what to do - you do your thing, I'll do mine.  But I will say that I compare living here to many other mitzvos - with the approach of na'aseh v'nishma - you DO it, then you understand.

I'm just beginning to understand.

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