Monday, August 27, 2018

How Do You Like It So Far?

And the Lord said to Abram," Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the Land that I will show you; 
And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and you shall be a blessing; 
and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you." 
-Genesis 12:1-3

As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart, 
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope - the two-thousand-year-old hope - will not be lost;
To be a free people in our Land,
The Land of Zion and Jerusalem
- HaTikva (The Hope) National Anthem of Israel

Once again, over the past 4 months, it looked like Israel was facing another summer war. It's now late in the summer, so we seemed to have staved it off for now, and are facing, instead another winter war...

I would like to say that this would have been my 3rd war, or 4th war, or 10th war since I came to live in Israel, but the truth is, I've lost count. It's also very hard to define an Israeli war.

I've been in Israel a long time.
I was just thinking about it - how long I've been here. I wrote a blog post a while ago about the last March for Israel I attended in the Old Country. It was a long time ago.

Forty years to be exact.

I am celebrating my 40-year aliyahversary.
Aliyahversary was not even a word when I made Aliyah.
I didn't even make Aliyah. I just came.

Also, because I still act like I'm 17 (or 12 - depending on the day), it couldn't possibly be so many years.

Some say that 40 years isn't really a long time. 
That's true, if you're a tree.

14,610 days.
350,640 hours (more or less, let's not be OCD).

I honestly don't know where the time has gone. I can, however, clearly recall that first plane ride (which, in itself, seemed 40 years long).

Our sages tell us that the Children of Israel wandered the desert for 40 years until they reached the Land of Israel partly so that the transition from slavery to freedom could be made. The old generation needed to die off so the younger - born into freedom - could take over. I can relate. My kids are Israeli (though they can, if they want, pass), my grandkids even more so. I still haven't quite finished making that transition.
Sorry aboot that.

When I think about it, my aliyah has been a dismal failure. I get lost on buses. I don't know how to pay for a train ride. I'm sent home from government offices because I don't have the correct paperwork. And EVERYONE tries to speak to me in English the minute I open my mouth to speak. (I also still practice what I'm going to say before I say it - but so do a lot of people I know. I think it's a  thing.) In a crowd of Israelis, I sometimes still feel like an outsider.

I still get annoyed when I'm pushed aside by a man or a teenager or a woman to get on the bus first. Or when someone takes up two or even three parking spots, or worse, doubles and triple parks so they don't have to walk the extra 23 centimetres; I'm even more annoyed when someone leaves their shopping trolley on the diagonal in the middle of an aisle, making it impossible to get by without pushing aside their trolley. And when I do, they get annoyed. It aggravates me no end when people talk out loud to each other in the movie theatre; shout to each other across streets; play loud music on the bus; refuse to turn the music down in a store. I still don't understand how store owners can advertise items for sale that are not actually available.

Most of these 40 years have been spent simply living my life; floundering my way; making friends; making mistakes; having and raising my kids; making more mistakes; making dinner; having fun; not having fun; learning; doing laundry; playing in the park; spending money; saving money; reading books; reading newspapers; watching movies; watching the news; making more mistakes; complaining about the heat; complaining about the cold; complaining about the neighbors; complaining about the other drivers; complaining about the kids; worrying about the kids; celebrating simchas; crying in the bathroom; watching fireworks; attending siddur parties, chumash parties, graduations, swearing-in ceremonies; baking cake; eating cake; going on vacation; recovering from going on vacation; laughing; praying.

40 years =
Several hundred planted trees and flowers (all in the first year)
1 degree from a real university
1 husband
5 kids
2 daughters-in-law
2 grandkids
4 cars
2 refrigerators
3 stove tops
7 washing machines(!!!)
2 apartments
2 houses
a dozen or so addresses
several jobs
scores of wars and elections
countless friends
several (but not enough!!) family members who have  made aliyah or, at least, come to visit

I wish I had made a greater contribution to society, made my presence felt more.

I do have one daily goal. I try, at least once a day, to get one person to smile. Then I feel my day has not been wasted. And if, every once in a while, I get someone to pee their pants a little - that's a bonus. 

I always remember that nothing in Israel is simple, or straightforward. For every shove on the bus, there are five kids who will give up their seat for me. For every bad parking spot there were dozens of offered lifts.
For each diagonally placed supermarket trolley, I could see 10 people who would give up their place in line to someone with kids or to the handicapped or elderly.
For every missed movie line due to someone talking at full volume, there are hundreds of people reciting psalms for the ill, the injured, the poor, the childless, the unmarried.

There might be what would be perceived by these Old Country-born eyes as universal rudeness, but there is also universal concern and universal joy.
What some might call nosiness is really a strong sense of community.
I have been the recipient of and observed inumerable acts of kindness - to loved ones, to friends, to complete strangers.
But nobody is a stranger, because we're all family, despite it all.
I've witnessed bravery, courage, kindness, loyalty, faith, great joy - and all in my own living room.
I've been blessed to witness miracles.

40 years =
Saying goodbye
but welcoming the new.
Endless problems and worries
but constant laughter and joy.
Incessant fear, and worry, and dread,
Everlasting pride and honor and delight.

I am profoundly grateful, Every. Single. Day. that I was born, after so many generations, into a world where Israel existed and that I have been able to live my life here.
I still wonder at the miracle that is Israel.
And I still cry when I sing HaTikva.

Please take a moment, and thank G-d for the State of Israel, diagonal trolleys and all.

אָבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם, צוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוֹאֲלוֹ,
בָּרֵךְ אֶת מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, רֵאשִׁית צְמִיחַת גְּאֻלָּתֵנוּ.
הָגֵן עָלֶיהָ בְּאֶבְרַת חַסְדֶּךָ, וּפְרֹשׁ עָלֶיהָ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ,
וּשְׁלַח אוֹרְךָ וַאֲמִתְּךָ לְרָאשֶׁיהָ, שָׂרֶיהָ וְיוֹעֲצֶיהָ, וְתַקְּנֵם בְּעֵצָה טוֹבָה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ.
חַזֵּק אֶת יְדֵי מְגִנֵּי אֶרֶץ קָדְשֵׁנוּ, וְהַנְחִילֵם אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְשׁוּעָה
וַעֲטֶרֶת נִצָּחוֹן תְּעַטְּרֵם, וְנָתַתָּ שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץוְשִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם לְיוֹשְׁבֶיהָ.
וְאֶת אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל פְּקָד־נָאבְּכָל אַרְצוֹת פְּזוּרֵיהֶם,
וְתוֹלִיכֵם מְהֵרָה קוֹמְמִיּוּת לְצִיּוֹן עִירֶךָ
 וְלִירוּשָׁלַיִם מִשְׁכַּן שְׁמֶךָ,
כַּכָּתוּב בְּתוֹרַת משֶׁה עַבְדֶּךָ:
”אִם יִהְיֶה נִדַּחֲךָ בִּקְצֵה הַשָּׁמַיִם, מִשָּׁם יְקַבֶּצְךָ ה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ וּמִשָּׁם יִקָּחֶךָ.
וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ ה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יָרְשׁוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָוִירִשְׁתָּהּ,
וְהֵיטִבְךָ וְהִרְבְּךָ מֵאֲבֹתֶיךָ.“(דברים ל:ד-ה)
וְיַחֵד לְבָבֵנוּ לְאַהֲבָה וּלְיִרְאָה אֶת שְׁמֶךָ, וְלִשְׁמֹר אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָתֶךָ.
וּשְׁלַח לָנוּ מְהֵרָה בֶּן דָּוִד מְשִׁיחַ צִדְקֶךָ, לִפְדּות מְחַכֵּי קֵץ יְשׁוּעָתֶךָ.
הוֹפַע בַּהֲדַר גְּאוֹן עֻזֶּךָ עַל כָּל יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵּבֵל אַרְצֶךָ, וְיֹאמַר כֹּל אֲשֶׁר נְשָׁמָה בְּאַפּוֹ:
יהוה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֶלֶךְ,”וּ֝מַלְכוּת֗וֹ בַּכֹּ֥ל מָשָֽׁלָה.“(תהלים קג:יט)
אָמֵן סֶלָה.
Our Father who is in heaven, Protector and Redeemer of Israel,
bless the State of Israel, the dawn of our deliverance.
Shield it beneath the wings of Your love;
spread over it Your canopy of peace;
send Your light and Your truth to its leaders, officers, and counselors, and direct them with Your good counsel.
Strengthen the defenders of our Holy Land;
grant them, our God, salvation and crown them with victory.
Establish peace in the land, and everlasting joy for its inhabitants.
Remember our brethren, the whole house of Israel, in all the lands of their dispersion. Speedily bring them to Zion, Your city, to Jerusalem Your dwelling-place, as it is written in the  of Your servant Moses:
“Even if you are dispersed in the uttermost parts of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather and fetch you. The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your ancestors possessed, and you shall possess it; and God will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your ancestors.”
Unite our hearts to love and revere Your name, and to observe all the precepts of Your Torah.
Speedily send us Your righteous Messiah of the House of David, to redeem those waiting for Your salvation.
Shine forth in Your glorious majesty over all the inhabitants of Your world.
Let everything that breathes proclaim: “The Lord God of Israel is King; His majesty rules over all.”
Amen. Selah.