Living Israel

“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.

Why I Sing the Blues

I’m a bit melodramatic if you haven’t figured that out.  I see things with my heart and feel things with my soul.  It can be stressful at times, trying to dig the rationale out of heaping piles of feelings, but there are some rewards.

So I was a bit surprised when my husband, who can usually read all the emotions running through my words with an understanding (on the side of tolerant) eye, looked at me after reading my last post, A Song Of Fire, and asked me where the hell that came from.  I figure if HE didn’t get it there must be at least some other readers, (ha! as if there are more than a few) who were reading quizzically, thinking I went over the edge.

Truth is, maybe I did.  The source of that post might not make sense to you, but I feel at least a little obliged to explain, so as to hang onto whatever readership I’ve got.

See, I was sitting on my porch, looking out at the view.  The big picture was gorgeous, as usual, with the hill used as a sheep pasture directly in my line of vision and my peripheral filled with rolling mountains and clear blue sky.  Then I looked again and saw the details.

Any of you been in Israel in the summer?  It’s brown.  Different shades of dead, dry brown.  The occasional green comes from useless low bushes that don’t offer any shade.  And it burns.  Literally.  All summer long.

So there I am, looking at rolling brown terrain, naturally smelling some far off brush fire, when the land starting talking to me.

Okay – stop reading now if you just wrote me off as psycho.  I already explained my melodrama, no need to add other labels.

Anyway, that’s what happened.  The land spoke and I wrote what she was saying.  I didn’t think it could be taken as anything else, doesn’t everybody hear it?

Oh right.  You don’t.

And here’s my little Zionist pitch: that’s why you ain’t here.  Cause if you heard her, I mean really really heard her, you would abandon all and join me on the dead terrain, screaming for redemption.

I know what I’m waiting for.

What about you?