Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Feelin' Woozy

Now that we've identified our prospective aliyah date with a high degree of certainty (while, of course, maintaining supreme awareness that only The Big Guy knows if we'll actually succeed in getting on that plane), things are starting to speed up. 

I walk through my house with an awareness that, as things disappear from every corner, it feels less and less like my home.  I am nursing a small but growing anxious feeling about getting everything done that is necessary to extricate us from five decades of life in America - unsubscribing, canceling, returning, liquidating, ending.  I feel pressed to apply for a new credit card with no foreign transaction fees because soon, we won't have an income (or a US address).  I should make sure my university transcripts have my current name on them in case I have to submit them in Israel for verification.  I need to move money from certain accounts into others.  And a hundred other niggling tasks like that.  Anxious that I won't get it all done and anxious that I'll completely forget to do something major.

Every time I open a drawer or a cabinet, I see more stuff I have to sell off.  Not to mention trying to figure out how to sell things we still need for another 65 days or so.

I've been in transition-mode for so long, and my mind is racing so fast over 10,000 details, that I'm  feelin woozy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yom Yom Far From Home

There are many days on the calendar when I wish I was in Israel.  Okay, pretty much every day...  But this past week were two special days that really don't translate well to American soil.  Sunday night was Yom HaZikaron - Israel's Memorial Day for the 22,682 soldiers who died defending our tiny country and the terror victims who died because there are still people in the world who need to kill Jews to feel successful in life.  In Israel, the day is marked by a 2-minute siren, during which Jews in shopping malls, on the road and everywhere else in the country stop and stand silently at attention, thinking about the soldiers and terror victims to whom they are personally connected.

It's a small country.

Immediately after Yom HaZikaron comes Yom HaAtzmaut - Israel Independence Day - celebrating the birth of the modern State of Israel 62 years ago.

In Baltimore, there are community and school-based programs. Yeshivat Rambam the most Zionist school in Baltimore, and the school where we've been sending our kids for years, has an annual Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzmaut program.

This year's program was our last, and a few memories are worth preserving.  The Yom HaZikaron portion of the program at Yeshivat Rambam typically opens with high school girls telling stories of soldiers lost in Israel's many wars.  This year I heard that President Nixon's mother used to tell him bible stories when he was young.  She once told him that someday, he would be very powerful and he would be in a position to help the Jewish people.  At a crucial time in the Yom Kippur War, PM Golda Meir called President Nixon in the middle of the night, begging for US support for the war.  According to this account, Nixon recalled his mother's words and signed an Executive Order authorizing Israel to get whatever was needed to turn the war around.

Once Yom HaZikaron ended, the program transitioned to a celebratory Yom HaAtzmaut, featuring daglanut (flag dancing), adorable Israeli songs and more.



For the past 6 years,  the end of the evening has been the highlight for me.  Yeshivat Rambam honors those families who are planning to make aliyah in the upcoming months by calling them up onto the stage to light a candle.  Every year, I applauded wildly while my friends and community members were called up onto that stage on Yom HaAtzmaut, to inspire others, to show others what it looks like to publicly announce that the future of one's family is in Israel.

This year, it was our turn.


It was an impressive group of singles and families, most with 4 or 5 children, up there, all off to meet our destinies in Israel.  Yeshivat Rambam did a lot to bring the feelings of Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut to Baltimore.  Clearly, hours and hours of effort, coordination, creativity and spirit went into the evening. I applaud the effort.  But in the end, honoring these uniquely Israeli days 6,000 miles away cannot match the feelings these days engender in their natural habitat.  No matter how hard the programmers worked to capture them, we are simply too far removed from the real thing to experience the fullness of these days while sitting in Baltimore.  

In the end, it was yom, yom, far from home.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sometimes Words Are Useless

For years, friends who were making aliyah and leaving me and my longing behind would look into my pathetic, droopy, sad eyes and try to say things to comfort me.

"Soon, it will be your turn."

"Hashem must have a reason for you to still be here."

"Hashem knows how much you are yearning to be in Israel and that counts for a lot."

All true statements, and I always appreciated the sentiment behind them, but they weren't exactly uplifting.  At the end of the day, my friends got to get on that aliyah flight.

And I didn't.

And, back then, I didn't have a clue when I would be able to.

Now, I look at the friends, all more spiritually worthy than I am, who have the same longing to go, the same painful stuckness, the same inability, because of other commitments, to leave America despite their desperate desires.

And I haven't a clue what to say to them.

All I can do is thank Gd that, in a few months, I"H, it'll be my turn.

Having been in that position for so long, you would think I would have a soothing way to respond to the sadness of those left behind, but I don't.  I'm just as much at a loss for words as everyone else.

But I can hug them.  And, in that way, communicate that I get it.  That's about all I can do, because sometimes, words are useless.