No, not those nine months.
I feel like I haven’t written as much as I could be, forgetting to record the way the words dance like ballerinas across the screen. And suddenly I have been in Israel for nine months. April is over, and the only way I will see the month again is to wait a year.
I am afraid that I’m failing to record important things about my time here. And the difference is, although these past nine months won’t ever be exactly the same, they will be back again next year, with inclement weather, crazy Bostonians and transportation being normal on Shabbat. But twenty-five-year-old me will be gone for good.
I ushered in May the same way most of Israel did, with tears shed on Yom HaZikaron and smiles, when I wasn’t napping, on Yom Ha’atzmaut. And with gratitude. My pace and my heartbeat have changed some with the new month—the stunning weather bringing with it an invitation to pause and remember that busy-ness is not an asset.
I have had time over the past month to think about what I want to remember about right now—to notice how much this country progresses and how much she has to do, too. To realize she is always more new than gone.
I spent the first weekend in May in Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva and Meitar for my second of three Mifgashim seminars (see my post “Falling Tears Post Meitar.”) Even though having to leave Meitar was one of the saddest moments I have experienced over the past nine months, I was so full of gratitude for Masa, the Mifgashim organizers, the participants in my group, my host, Amit, and his wonderful family who all modeled grace and grammar.
After heading to Jerusalem for Yom HaZikaron the day after I left Meitar, I was so full of gratitude for the Israel Defense Forces—for the way they fight to their limits and pull hard on their families’ emotions, for their courage and their sacrifice that lets me live in Israel and for all the things I have learned from them.
I am so full of gratitude. Ridiculously grateful. I said the word more than once this month, lightly, like a damsel in distress, like I beg bevakasha with my students to stop talking loudly or to not climb on the table. Loudly, like exclamation marks at a club, like I shout back a hello to my students when I see them around Netanya. I finally settle on whispers, repeating them softly and reverently, like a Namaste at the end of a yoga session. Grateful.
I feel energy in this country, like with my fellow Jewish leaders for instance. I get such a charge out of them. Just under two weeks ago, I was in the Judean Hills with my Kol Voice comrades, along with the participants in the Makom, Hillel and PresentTense tracks. Our tracks all lead us in different directions—mine is Israel activism—but at the end of the day, we are all here together, trying to make sense of this place and to love her so. My fellow Jewish leaders are so plugged into the world. I felt like I was always following them around the hotel, trying to create a connection with Israel that is as strong as theirs.
My Jewish leaders are brave tour guides, showing me through their lives, choosing paths different than their parents, but still stopping at all the best parts. They stop to process the environment and point out mystifying parts.
Of course there were times during that seminar I would rather not revisit, like a certain boy who had the chutzpah to talk to me without apologizing to me to my face over his misdeeds—times that consistently remind me that boys are jerks no matter what their nationality is or where they live.
But most of the seminar, I was admiring some kind of overlooked loveliness about being around these leaders, and by the time I caught up with them, really put myself into the moment, they were onto the next big thing.
When I am close to these people, though, when I can shake my head at the unfairness that exists in this world or when I can hold their hands through the commonplace chaos that unites us as Jewish leaders, I think to myself that these people are going to grow up to be those people who multiply the energy in a room. I can’t forget them or this country.
Like I could ever forget this place.
Coming here was a dream. She was the acceptance email fourteen months ago, two long flights on British Airways and the invisible presence who helps the world without demanding recognition.
Israel has made me the kind of person who, most of the time now, remembers that I am not standing in the center of my own universe. She has broken my heart open in order to allow more humanity in.
She stays in the world while taking with her words and meanings. She has left memories and impressions, like in the way she pulls light into the place she sits like her own unique gravity.
I think that whatever has left an impression on me has become part of who I am. And then I will pass it on.
Pass along a little bit of sunshine, would you? Think of someone or someplace that has left an impression on you and pay tribute to that person or place. Any way you can.