“Are you ready to come home?” my mother says coyly.

She wants to sound like she’s joking, but we both know she’s not.

“All of our friends and family are asking about you,” she says, as we Skype about “the situation” in Israel.

She doesn’t say so exactly, but I know they’re asking asking, too, “When is she coming home?”

What I want to say, with a gentle and sincere smile, to my loving and thoughtful family and friends in America is this:

I’m not at summer camp. I’m not on semester abroad. I’m not on vacation.

I live here.

I live in Israel.

I have a job — with benefits. I pay taxes. I take yoga classes.

My kids go to school. They’re on soccer teams. They have playdates. They jump on the trampoline.

They live here.

Here: In Israel.

I understand your protective impulse, my loving friends and family.

I know you speak from a place of love and you only want us out of harm’s way.

I know some of you see Israel as a danger zone; as a risk factor; as trouble with a capital T.

Even some of you who have traveled here think Israel is safe to visit, but you would never live here.

It’s too dangerous.

You think America is safer.

Come home, you whisper. Come home.

Maybe you’re right. Maybe America is safer.

But maybe not.

Is it safer to live in Colorado where masked gunmen take out innocent moviegoers? Or in Missouri where a masked gunman almost took out innocent moviegoers?

Is it safer to live where I used to — in Northern New Jersey — a region which has been in the path of more destructive weather catastrophes in the two years since I made Aliyah than in my entire memory?

Is it safer for my children in American schools which have seen an increase in shootings? In violent bullying incidents? In suicides?

Is it safer for me to work in Manhattan? On Wall Street? In the Pentagon?

I don’t know.

Maybe it is.

But, frankly, it doesn’t matter.

Because I live here.

I live in Israel.

I don’t live in a textbook. Or in a policy paper. I don’t live in an op-ed piece or a political agenda.

I live in Israel.

I live in a red house on a street in a neighborhood made up of really nice, normal people who just want to wake up at 6 am; vigorously walk for 30 minutes to stave off the approaching middle age pouch; rush home to pack their kids’ lunches and send them off to school without a lump in their throat.

They want the prices of milk to go down. They want their worst complaint to be about work.

They want a normal life without sirens; without rockets; without reserve duty; but mostly, they want to live without the fear.

But, where in this world we live does such a place exist?

A place, a home, a life without fear?

I’d be lying if I said I don’t sometimes imagine living somewhere other than here. I do. And someday I might move somewhere other than here.

But, for now, I live in Israel.

And your care, your compassion, your support is what I need most.

Don’t wish me away from here.

Just wish me safe and sound.

You, my friends and family, are my home. Even when I live far away.

Here.

In Israel.

 

 

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