Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How Do I Get To....?

See, now that is a question I am always asking other people, or actually I am always asking Waze.

Before I go anywhere new, I not only put the location in Waze, but I look at it on Google Maps, just to see the route beforehand, look at the "street view" so I know what to look for when I get there, and consider alternate routes.  I mean, I investigate thoroughly.

That is because I am MORTALLY TERRIFIED of being in the wrong location - um, with good reason.

Israel is not a country in which you have "fun" being lost.  It's not an adventure, it's just plain scary.

So here I was, driving along minding my own business and there's a young woman who is stopped in the middle of the street in my neighborhood.  While everyone else was honking and gesticulating around her for delaying their arrival at their destination for all of 20 seconds, I looked at her and she waved at me desperately.

So I pulled over and she asked me where a certain street was. In Hebrew.  She was Israeli.

Hahahaha!  SHE asked ME!  And she expected me to explain!  In Hebrew!  Hahahaha!

So I knew exactly where she wanted to go, but when I started explaining, after the [Hebrew] expression, "First, turn around," my words did that same funny trick they always do - they start doing acrobatics as they are about to come out of my mouth.

I literally could not speak.  So I decided, well that's not HER fault, and said, in English, "Follow me." She looked at me in shock, "Yesh lach zman?" [You have time?].  And instead of answering that taking ten minutes to show her is less embarrassing than trying to explain it with my acrobatic Hebrew, I nodded.

At one point, after about 5 minutes of driving, I gesticulated for her to pull up next to me and I asked her which direction on this road she was looking for.  Then I explained IN HEBREW what she should do.  She was very grateful and drove on.

On my way home, I repeated what I'd said to her about 100 times - was it correct?  Did I tell her to turn left when I should have told her to turn right?

What if she ends up in Ramallah???  What did I do???

I will never know if she found the place.

My only consolation is that, if you try to enter Ramallah, the army stops you and maybe a soldier will tell her how to get where she was going.

I should have just told her how to install Waze on her phone.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I Can't Just Keep Quiet

So much is going on in Israel these days - so much violence, so many human beings injured in so many ways.

So much is going on around the world these days, so much that is so bad for the Jewish people.

I am not a Jewish leader, just a person who, for family reasons, found it a good time to make aliyah. But having made aliyah, I can't just sit back and enjoy my new life - I feel this deep desire to find a way to convince other Jews to do the same.

No, this is not "aliyah snobbery," a term I find extremely distasteful, and which to me reeks of "I don't want to hear what you have to say because you make me feel guilty."

This is coming from my deep, abiding love for my fellow Jews, something my parents taught me by example. I now know what this life is like. If you haven't lived here (as opposed to a year or two in seminary/yeshiva), you don't get it.  And I WANT you to get it.

Living here is authentic, and I can't find a better word.  For religious and non-religious alike, it is the place we are supposed to be. I can't tell you how many non-religious Jews, upon hearing that we made aliyah, have said, "Of course, you came home!  Why don't other Jews do that?  What's wrong with them?  How can they live as Jews anywhere else?"

So here is my plea - just think about it.  Yes, you will have to give up some things which you've gotten used to.  But this is what you get in return - the fullness of heart every time you look at the landscape, the deep satisfaction that you, yes little old you, are actually contributing to the future of our land, and that you have done what God told us to do - live in the land He gave us.

To parents of adult children who want to make aliyah, I ask you to encourage your children. Yes, it will be hard, and yes it's far away, but how can you deny them the chance to be part of this miracle?  I know that many people make their children feel guilty for wanting to make aliyah.  But what better sign is there that you've raised your children well than that they want to contribute to the future of the Jewish people in the Jewish land?

My husband and I recently entered into a long-standing debate about whether or not the State of Israel is the "beginning sign of the Redemption."  My husband has one opinion, I have another, and of course it is an ongoing discussion among religious and non-religious thinkers.

Personally, I have no doubt in my heart of hearts that the establishment of Medinat Yisrael is some kind of milestone for us as a people. This successful, living, growing country may have its problems, but the amount of knowledge that is generated in this tiny land mass, both secular and religious, is staggering.  The amount of medical research alone has probably saved thousands if not tens of thousands of lives worldwide.

As I sit in my modern apartment in my modern city, surrounded by Jews from all over the world who have come home, as I walk in the mall and hear about 15 different languages, as I see the Facebook posts from hundreds of new olim asking for advice, I feel so sure that the act of coming home to our land is deeply, innately rooted in each of us.

That's why I can't keep quiet.  I can't just live my new life and not let you know that it is a life like no other, in a place like no other, and with a people like no other.