My eldest son is moving away today. Hopefully it’s temporary and only for a year, but that doesn’t really matter, because right now, he is leaving. He is moving 7000 miles away to experience another way of life for a while and to make some money.
As I sifted through 22 years of pictures last week, (because apparently that’s what nostalgic mothers do when their babies leave home), I came across a family picture from when my son was a year old. The picture was taken at the airport right before we made Aliyah. My husband’s parents had already made Aliyah, so it was my parents, sisters and grandmother who came to see us off at the airport.
Until right now, I don’t think I ever really understood what my parents might be feeling. They still had my two sisters at home, but one of their children was moving away with her family. As far as I was concerned, it was a joyous moment, I was making Aliyah. I was moving to Israel, something that many Jews worldwide dream about doing. I can’t say I wasn’t a bit nervous about adjusting but still, it was a happy occasion.
On a side point, that moment was actually kind of ironic because my parents had spoken about making Aliyah when I was 11 years old. My response to them at the time was that they could make Aliyah to a backwards country with no phones or proper roads on their own, but that I was staying in America. I actually not only ended up just making Aliyah but I actually lived my first four years as an Israeli as a member of a Kibbutz. I’m also happy to be able to say that 31 years later the phones and roads are quite decent, and you can get most everything you need here.
Today when my son is leaving us to go live in the United States, I find myself wondering how my parents felt when I moved away. I find myself wondering whether moving somewhere for ideological reasons shared by your parents makes the separation for both parties any easier than just moving away for other reasons.
I know my son is excited and happy to be experiencing something new. For me the moment is bittersweet. I know his life is his journey. I am proud of him, happy for his happiness and sad because I will miss him. I’m also sad because America, with all it’s opportunities, is not the country that my son spent 3 1/2 years defending as a combat soldier. America is not the Jewish State we made sacrifices to live in.
Would it be easier for me if I was living in America and he was leaving home to make Aliyah? I really don’t know.
What do you think? Is separation any easier when it’s founded on ideology?