“So where are you moving to?” she asked.
“Moshav Zanoach” I said, desperately trying to pry a stick out of my son’s grasp.
I was too caught up in parenting to notice her reaction.
She kept quiet for a bit.
“Hmm” she finally said, and I turned because I could hear her eyebrows raise and her mouth turn down into some sort of scowling judgment.
I don’t know why, but I found myself explaining.
We’ve always wanted to live on a moshav.
We can’t afford to live in Ramat Beit Shemesh anymore.
We want to be in a more Israeli environment.
We’re not such city people.
I stopped when I caught myself starting to say something about the stupid politics.
Over dinner, I told my husband what my neighbor’s concerns for us were.
She thinks we need friends.
She thinks we need a community of people just like us.
She thinks our kids won’t find playmates.
She thinks there’s no place for people born in America among people born in Morroco.
And then, after we laughed about how she was just reinforcing our decision to leave, we began to reflect on the other kind of feedback we got.
There was the cab driver who asked me where I was moving to…and then his face lit up as he told me over and over how beautiful it is there, and how the people are so nice and amazing. Another driver told me I was doing the best thing for my family, and every Israeli who heard about where we’re moving to enthusiastically said “Kol hakavod!”
It’s interesting to see things from this side of the fence. For so long, we’ve known that in order to live in this country and be a part of something we chose, we would have to live an Israeli lifestyle in an Israeli environment. But so many things got in the way. The language, the culture…the fear of feeling lost and alone…and even a fear that our American family wouldn’t care to visit us in our little Israeli community.
So we stuck around the other olim and tried our best to raise our children with values that would help them fully integrate.
It didn’t help any.
It made us feel stifled and foreign all the time.
We didn’t belong with the Americans, but we still didn’t belong with Israelis.
And neither culture understood and accepted us.
We started to see that we don’t need anything from America anymore. We don’t need deodorant and shampoo to be packaged in English…and tomato sauce can never be something to pine for. We also came to realize that we don’t always want to understand every little thing our neighbors say.
So we found an apartment in a small Moshav near Beit Shemesh.
We brushed off the criticism and embraced the approval. We took a big leap of faith and plunged right in.
In the past two weeks, we’ve been in an entirely different world.
And we love it.
We slowly shifted our minds away from where we were born and what we were raised with and are grateful to say we have finally arrived…here.