Monday, May 5, 2014

There and Here

Last week we returned from the US - my husband had been there since the end of February, for work, and I was there since the week before Pesach.  It was great seeing our kids in Chicago, and spending part of Pesach in Florida.

Here are things I noticed when I was in the US:

  • There is English
  • There is Target
  • There is CVS
  • The traffic lanes are normal size
Truth is, I fell back into life in America with no trouble at all.  At times I was thinking, "Wow, this is so easy!  Everyone speaks English,  and I can find the products I want, and I get the culture!"  It felt comfy and I didn't have to work so hard at everything.

But there were things I missed - looking at the Judean Hills every day, knowing Jerusalem was 25 minutes away, there for me any time I wanted to go, and hearing Hebrew, even if I didn't understand it. 

The thing is, I chose to make Israel my home, and then when I got here, I realized that "home" had an entirely new meaning.  It's not just the physical environment, it's the belonging. 

I lived in the US for the first 58 years of my life, but I never felt at home.  Maybe I'm unlike other people, but I was always keenly aware of not belonging.

It was never my country, it was their country and I was living in it.  I was grateful for the good life and the freedom, but I was a guest.  The culture revolved around someone else's religion, someone else's holidays and customs.  And the tendrils of anti-semitism would snake around me so often that it was just part of life.

I'll never forget a co worker whom I trusted and respected saying to me, on more than one occasion, how he "Jewed" someone.  And not realizing how insulting and hurtful that was.  And that no one else in the office, aside from my African American friends, got that either. 

When I got here, it hit me with tremendous force - this is my country, my people, my holidays, my customs. This is where I was supposed to be all along, why hadn't I known that?  Why hadn't I acted on it?

So last night we attended the festive Maariv for Yom Haatzmaut, at our shul.  This was one of the most powerful moments since we made aliyah, and I'll never forget it.

The special tefilot were said, and the dancing and singing rocked the shul.  Everyone was wearing white and blue, everyone was joyful and grateful, and when the shofar blew and we all said "Shema Yisrael" together, it was like we were shouting to the heavens in gratitude.

I looked at my friend and said, "Look what we did!  We came here! Yay us!!!" and we both laughed and cried together.

So I am happy to be back with the narrow traffic lanes, missing a lot of what people say, asking "Mah?" a lot, and being unable to find Excedrin.

Home is where my soul is. Thank you, Hashem, for this land and this people and this Torah.

1 comment:

  1. I was also in the states for Pesach and I couldn't wait to come back home. [2 trips to Target and 4 to Walgreens aside. ;-)]