Tag Archives: Israel

Israel

I found a draft of a blog post I was beginning to write a couple of years ago, a few months after moving to Israel officially:

“Since coming to Israel, I’ve received some mixed criticism and confusion from my non-Jewish friends who don’t quite understand why I would come to such a dangerous and so very non-American country and decide to live here. As Oscar Wilde says, ‘The truth is rarely pure and never simple,’ and I’d like to use that quote as a disclaimer to my upcoming explanation which won’t be totally pulled together or comprehensive.

As I was saying before, I grew up with a deep love of Israel. Many of my friends, teachers, and community members were Israeli, I sang Israeli folk songs with classmates, and the Israeli flag hung in our auditorium. It might sound odd for a Silicon Valley upbringing, but that was normal for me. That was life.

I remember the first time I went to Israel – it was my 8th grade class trip, with five of my classmates (my school was very small – my 8th grade graduating class of 2007 consisted of eight people including myself). Certain memories are hazy, but mainly I remember the feeling that I was in the right place. I remember thinking that even the sun seemed to shine differently in the magical land of Israel. I remember weeping when I left (to be honest, it was less civilized than that and involved some messy bawling at the airport).

I remember that the Israeli security woman at the airport told me, in response to my tears (I was unabashedly crying the entire way through the airport, and even when boarding the plane), ‘You will come back.’ I don’t remember her face, her name, or any significant details about her, but she said that to me and to me alone, and it stuck.

So, here I am, almost a full eight years later, and upon first re-entering this country, I knew that I could never leave it. Not only did I fall in love with Eretz Yisrael all over again, like it was some long-lost love affair, but I met and fell in love with my soon-to-be husband, which I view to be a kind of confirmation from God that this was, indeed, where I was supposed to be.”

I now turn to you, the reader: pray for my husband and I, that we might return to our home very quickly, and not simply in the figurative way our people have yearned for home for centuries. We are willing, ready, but not quite able to make this happen yet. A few things must happen first, but if it weren’t for certain constraints, we’d be there tomorrow. Pray for us: pray that we will see our home again soon, and that we will merit to live there once again, and forever.

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Exile

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“So do Jews hate Jesus?” a coworker asked me the other week. The question itself wasn’t particularly disturbing; I knew it was asked out of genuine curiosity and naivety. But the truly unsettling part was the remembrance that I was in exile. A stranger in a strange land.

I had gone from living in Israel – the Holy Land – the Promised Land – to living in מצרים, Egypt, the land of slavery. Yet, rather like the initial purpose of the descent of Joseph’s family to Egypt in search of food and bounty, I had come here willingly seeking much of the same. In my case, it was also for the sake of family.

It is a self-imposed exile. And with it comes the necessary evils that accompany all migrations, though my case is a strange one, for I find myself in my old “homeland,” the land that I was born and raised in.

I am reminded of a book I read some years ago called Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut. The protagonist describes feeling torn between two nations and somehow, simultaneously, nation-less. I, too, feel torn between the two countries of my heart – America and Israel. It’s hard to say whether I will ever truly feel comfortable in one place over the other. In Israel, I lack family. In America, I lack home. All these reflections have me recalling some thoughts I had while living in Israel: How could any Jew voluntarily live in exile, when Israel, the land of our ancestors, exists in the present?

It seems that, once again, God has given me the opportunity to answer my own – and perhaps others’ – question. It is self-imposed exile, yes – a seemingly ludicrous and nonsensical choice. But like Joseph’s family discovered, there is a reality that must be grasped, a truth which lies in a sometimes fickle reason: we have no other choice but to pursue greener pastures.

Hiatus

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I return to Machshevot after a months-long hiatus which came about after an unexpected sequence of events.  One of these unexpected events was my sudden migration from Israel, the country of my soul, to America, the land of my heart, which despite its many flaws still never fails to mesmerize me.

This post will not be a tirade against the media – though granted, the mass media always deserves some lambasting. This will be a very brief discussion on why I left Israel, meant for those readers, however few in number they may be, who are curious about my decision to leave Eretz Yisrael, which still is and always will be a place I call home.

Let me start by referencing an interesting article which was released some months back, around the time my husband and I decided to move back to the United States, titled “Sure you can make it in Israel – if your parents help, say economists.” Unfortunately this article presents a truth which hits too close to home. Although my reasons for leaving Israel were primarily familial in nature, the economic opportunities or lack thereof proved to be a significant hindrance to a normal work-life. Living in an urbanized area in Israel, which is a must if you do not own a car, is equivalent to living in some of the most expensive metropolises in the world. Yet the wages are disproportionately low and work, in general, is hard to come by unless you are in certain specific fields (technology, science, etc.).

Nevertheless, my motivation for leaving depended on one fact which would most likely never change: the distance from family. At approximately 5,900 miles from my parents on the East Coast and approximately 7,400 miles from my husband’s parents on the West Coast, there was little to no plausibility of frequent visits and vacations on either of our parts. And, as it does for most normal folk, finances naturally play a role in it. Who can afford several round trip tickets between Israel and the United States, even only once per year?! The sacrifice of leaving Israel was monumental, but the imminent sacrifice of time with loved ones was far greater.

That said, I will deeply cherish the time I spent in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The experience I gained there will stay with me forever, and I pray to see it once again soon.

“If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” (Psalm 137:5)

Hypocrisy

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Let me sketch a picture for you.

Women (and men) scream that it is a woman’s right to abort her baby – her body, her choice.

These same people often weep at the near extinction of many species of animals – whether by natural or unnatural causes – and weep about the destruction of forest life.

(I guess trees are more alive than an embryo?)

I hear varied arguments from pro-choice advocates. For a long time, the argument for it was that a fetus isn’t a baby until… some unspecified point. Abortions, advocates argued, are operations which simply remove “embryonic tissue.” Lately, though, the brunt of the arguments I hear are this: “my body, my choice” – which suggests that these women do recognize that they are killing living beings, but are loath to admit it.

But the law states that one who murders a pregnant woman is responsible for a double homicide. And the world wails when a pregnant woman in Gaza is killed in an IDF airstrike. Why specify that she is pregnant if it doesn’t mean anything? According to pro-choicers, she is just a woman with a growth in her body, perhaps equivalent to a tumor.

I would like to point out another deranged mentality.

People call for justice when Palestinians are injured and die. And yet they remain silent when innocent Israeli Jews are injured and die – or worse, justify it.

They hate imperialism of any variety, and yet fail to acknowledge that nearly every country on this planet has been conquered by foreign entities who are still present in those lands to this day.

(If you truly feel as though you are intruders on Native American soil, then leave.)

They demand strict gun controls, when most shootings happen in “gun free” zones.

(And a terror attack in San Bernardino becomes a narrative on gun control rather than terrorism, while the Planned Parenthood shooting is indicative of the radicalism of the right.)

They condemn racism but hate those who are white and “privileged.”

(Most politicians, both on the left and the right are “privileged” and yet nobody’s complaining about the vast wealth of these corrupt politicans.)

They claim to be open-minded, but scorn anyone who disagrees with them.

(They are accepting of everyone except those with different viewpoints.)

They eschew Islamophobia, homophobia, and most of the bad “isms,” but embrace anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism.

(They embrace Islam, which has historically and consistently been oppressive to women and homosexuals, while hating Christianity, which has demonstrated far less intolerance and has generally conformed to modern ideals.)

They demand peace and spew hatred.

This is hypocrisy.

We are all guilty of it at times – it is only human.

But ask yourself…

Do you see your own hypocrisy?

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” ~André Gide