Dear Future Me,
I know that you are probably very busy with life, you may be in college finishing a degree or busy working to make ends meet. I don’t know where you will be living; in Israel or Canada or even a 3rd world country following your hidden humanitarian dreams. You might not like to eat certain foods anymore and some, that you never expected, might even be your favourite. Although you may be a slightly or drastically different version of the Shira I know today I hope that you take a moment to read this and hopefully listen to your much younger self.
When you were 16 you left all the familiarness of what you called home, your parents, siblings, and everything that you were used to. You chose to take a gap year and spend 9 months in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the Midreshet HaRova seminary, in order to find yourself and further your beliefs in Judaism. Most of your friends who did not know of this concept called “seminary” , thought you were crazy for withholding yourself from a year of education, and community members in your local synagogue applauded you and wished you so much luck with high expectations on your outcome. All you were thinking about was that you hoped you wouldn’t become the stereotype of a ‘sem girl’ depicted in Blue Fringe’s song ‘flipping out’. It was hard, let’s not deny it. There were many nights when you cried because your bed was all you wanted and to be able to run into your fathers arms and hear your mother say “I love you Shira”; in person. But don’t worry there were great days too, and trust me, those days were great. Those days when you had a bounce in your step because nothing was going to get in your way and you had succeeded in sitting for a full 2 hours in a class without getting up or drifting off. You had great days where you sang “Am Yisrael Chai“ with all your heart and belted out Hatikva as if your life depended upon it. Those were the great days. Those were the days when you were making aliyah.
I want you to think back to what it felt like to hike in Eilat and to see how far you had gotten at the peak of Har Shlomo, don’t forget the ancient beauty of Tzfat with its blue hues and calm vibes. The first time you went to a beach in Ashdod and felt the powerful waves crash into you and yet you were still standing. Think about climbing up Massada and although you couldn’t feel your legs with every additional step you took, whenever you stopped and looked at what you had accomplished you were astounded by the scenery that was in front of you; un-photoshopped. Don’t forget the peaceful mornings in the old city where little children ran to school and the smell of fresh baked goods from the bakery would waft up to your apartment. These were the times you were ready to make aliyah.
Before you came to Israel you never really understood the pictures of thousands of members from Gush Katif wearing orange and crying because they were forced out of their homes. You couldn’t understand how people felt such a connection to a residence, your family moved all the time, it was no big deal. Your connection to Israel was merely the land of the chosen people; your chosen people, which bared the flag with a blue jewish star and that one day we were all going to end up there on big flying birds when we were finally given redemption. You are probably laughing at your young naiveté right now.
Unfortunately you may not be able to stay an extra year here in this beautiful country and I’m not really sure at this moment where you decided to go for university or even what you want to do with your life altogether, but what I do know right now is that I want to make Aliyah I want to do it because I have fallen in love. In love with a country that is truly flowing with milk and honey, a land that is rolling with beautiful mountains and mesmerizing culture. I have fallen in love with a place where I feel completely and utterly safe and happy, a place that allows me to be proud of my roots and of who I am as a Jew. I cannot even begin to imagine what I will go through when I leave this beautiful place.
It will be very easy to lose the spark that I have been experiencing over these 9 months here but I ask you to not forget that this is your home, this is why your father only says “welcome back” because your home is not stationed anywhere but in Israel. Do not forget how you cried on Yom HaAtzmaut because you had that “aha” moment when you realized there were no excuses for not making aliyah, that is what you wanted to do. Please think about this place that took you in and made you one of its own. This is your home and this will always be your home no matter where you go Shira because this will always be your haven dated back to over 2000 years ago.
It’s scary, I know, to do things but I’m 17 now, the people that formed the very land that I have the privilege to walk on today were my age. Had it not been for those people with a dream and such dedicated passion we wouldn’t have this beautiful land that I sometimes take for granted, but remember no matter what age you are you can do anything you put your mind and heart to.
I know you probably are really busy with your life, you were always the studious type, you might be crossing a busy street right now or climbing mount everest but take a moment wherever you are, whatever you are doing and just think. Close your eyes, think back to sitting at the Kotel, or sitting on the rooftops as you could see the entire Har Hazeitim (Mount of Olives). Go back to when you were laughing, or marching along with all of Am Yisrael waving the Israeli flag because we can. Picture the sights and the smells that may have become a distant memory in your mind. Come back. This will always be your home.
Sincerely – a really inspired and passionate 17 year old, you might recognize her, who is hoping that you will listen to her.