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Friday, November 15, 2013

GUEST POST: Born in the USA

Guest Post by Joan Kristall



On the boats and on the planes

They’re coming to America

Got a dream to take them there

They’re coming to America

Got a dream they’ve come to share

They’re coming to America
 
My country ‘tis of thee
 
Sweet land of liberty

(Neil Diamond)

At the end of this month, I have a plane ticket to America. Two weeks, during Chanukah, I plan to see family, friends and colleagues; do a workshop and stock up at Target. A short time ago, going on 2 years in January, we landed as official citizens of the State of Israel and haven’t looked back since. It seems uncanny, but our transition has been seamless. It’s as if our ‘slippers’, so to speak, were on the runway; we eased into them and kept walking into our new life. Despite the language barrier, the cultural differences, the bureaucracy, the absence of a car and no job when we arrived, we have adapted, adjusted, acclimated and grown in affection for our new country. Amazing!

I wonder if my grandparents, who arrived on the shores of New York harbor and were processed at Ellis Island, embraced their new homeland so smoothly and quickly. Bubby and grandma came from Russia, Zayde from Lithuania. All were very young, not yet adults, coming without the guidance and support of their parents. Little money, no work, few family, but a hope that life would be better. They were running from pogroms, antisemitism and poverty. They were headed for the ‘golden medina’, the Promised Land where possibilities were endless and the streets were paved with gold.

We, on the other hand, were not running from anything or anyone. Life in Baltimore, Maryland for the past 27 years was pretty darn good. In fact, I would say it was wonderful in so many ways. It was cozy and familiar, with so many people and places that knew our name. Why would people in their 60s uproot themselves from such comfort and move thousands of miles away when their lives were very far from ‘in danger’?

I guess the two words that come to mind are yearning and dream. We were running to our Home, to a place where our heart and soul could soar.

Does it feel different from living in ‘east coast USA’? You bet! Most definitely! It has felt like the most marvelous adventure; every day there is something mildly or majorly extraordinary that happens. To be able to walk on holy ground and feel stirred by the air; to be able to be present in the land that our magnificent ancestors once stood; to witness, on the ground, a modern day miracle and to be the hosts of our own country………..well, that is a deep and serene privilege, indeed!

I am looking forward to my trip, back to the country of my birth, very much. Seeing all the people I love in one fell swoop will be, I imagine, heartwarming and sustaining. To light the second candle of Chanukah on Thanksgiving will be awesome! I’m thrilled to be able, as is my plan, to cook a turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with marshmallow fluff and pumpkin pie for my 4 sons, as I have done for many decades. In my imagination, I can hear the football game in the background. Talk about All American….count me in!

As I think of this upcoming visit with much enthusiasm and envision the sweet reunions, big hugs, heartfelt talks and warm reconnections, I also visualize returning to Israel; displaying my Israeli passport, for the first time, and being chilled to the core, that I have come back Home.

4 comments:

Jeremy S. said...

Just beautiful! How fortunate we are to have run here, but not to have had to escape here. We needn't repudiate or denigrate our upbringing in order to absolutely love it in Israel. Ashreinu ma tov chelkeinu!

Humble wife said...

What an incredible post! I find the return of people to Israel so powerful, and with the way you wrote it, I knew why. You were returning home!

Thank you for sharing, and I pray you have a lovely Thanksgiving with your family!

SaraK said...

Beautiful post! I find returning to Israel after a visit abroad to be so emotional. No matter where I've been, I am returning Home.

Galia Berry said...

I hope no one will take offense by what I'm going to say....but I'm wondering if one of the keys to successful living in Israel is the ability to leave for a couple of weeks every few years? Life in Israel is just so intense, it seems strangely beneficial to take a break sometimes...one comes back refreshed yet happy and appreciative to be coming back home to Israel... I discussed this idea with various Israeli friends and they found this a surprising and novel idea but after they thought about it they agreed...I think if people in Israel were allowed a short vacation outside of Israel every few years there might be less yerida....just a thought. Maybe that also explains why Israelis devoted and committed to living in Israel love to travel!