Thursday, July 19, 2012

Star Trek; the next generation

"It's time to put an end to your trek through the stars"
Q (All Good Things...)

I read an editorial in the Jerusalem Post today claiming that because of the Birthright program, more and more young Jews today identify themselves as “Jewish” through their attachment to Israel, not through attachment to the culture or religion or history of the Jewish people.
I can’t remember when I established an attachment to Israel. It seems always to have been there.  I read Leon Uris’s ‘Exodus’ in the summer between Grades 6 and 7 and knew then that I wanted to live Israel, eventually. When I first came to Israel two weeks before my 18th birthday, I planned to spend some time here, go back to the old country, continue my education, and one day, when everything was in place, come back to live. It took me about 10 days after first arriving to decide that Israel was home, and that there was no going back.

Which makes it kind of ironic that I never actually made Aliyah.

I stayed on, first as a volunteer on a kibbutz, then studying in University, followed by working, getting married, having kids, living a life.

But the whole packing and saying goodbye, landing at Ben-Gurion Airport and kissing the ground thing passed me by. I was never greeted by a Jewish agency agent, never had a lift of all my worldly possessions arrive, and never had a free taxi ride anywhere in my life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m an Israeli citizen, pay taxes, vote in municipal and national elections, and have an Israeli passport.

Jerusalem in the winter

One wintry Jerusalem morning way back in the last century, I simply made my way to the Ministry of the Interior and changed my status, from illegal (I had never bothered to renew my student visa) to citizen. The clerk at the ministry thought I was slightly insane, but the paperwork went smoothly, and I left the building in less than half an hour with my new status. From there, I went to work, and carried on with my day. I didn’t even get a balloon.

Two recent incidences have brought this ancient history of mine to mind.
Last week, 245 people from North America came on Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that facilitates Aliyah from western countries. There was a groovy ceremony at the airport welcoming these people ‘home’, complete with government officials and balloons. These people are among the 2500 American, Canadian, and British Jews who are planning on coming on Aliyah this summer.
Watching the pictures on the nightly news, I sighed thinking that all I got in the way of ceremony was a clerk giving me bizarre looks.
Nonetheless, I celebrate the homecoming of these new Israelis. The more the merrier! I wish them all the luck and happiness in their new/old homeland.

And I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will return your captivity and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will return you to the place whence I exiled you.
Book of Jeremiah 29:14

With a pleasing savor I shall accept you when I take you out of the nations, and I shall gather you from the lands in which you were scattered, and I shall be hallowed through you before the eyes of the nations.
And you will know that I am the Lord when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land that I lifted My hand to give to your forefathers.
Book of Ezekiel 20:41-42

The words of the prophets are coming true before our eyes. Our people are gathering from the ends of the earth and are coming home. Our trek through the stars is beginning to come to an end.

The second incident is a bit more personal.

For many years, I was the only member of my immediate family to have made my life in Israel. As my and my siblings’ families grew, the distance between us seemed to grow also. Our lives were taking different paths, and it was sometimes hard to hold on to the things that made us family.  

But as time passes, and we grow older, and the kids grow up, the distance between me and my siblings is closing, as they are coming to visit more often, and their kids are beginning to make aliyah.

My oldest niece made Aliyah on one of those ground-kissing, balloon-giving Nefesh B’Nefesh flights. Like me, she married here, and this week gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. These babies are the first of their generation, my mother’s first great-grandchildren. A new generation, returned from exile, born in Israel.

How wondrous to be a witness to the miracles of G-d bringing His people back to their Land in all ways and in all manners.

May this new generation grow in the Land in happiness and health, with joy and loving kindness, in honor and dignity, and in peace.

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