(Aliyah Manifesto- the book continues with the New Year…
The new chapter, as I am back in my hometown for the Holiday and Syria is on the loose, may we merit a year of Brachot in this World…)
At least terrorists do not discriminate
The big question is how to deal with the terror. I will go out on a limb here and say, terrorism is wrong. But we have to think about it positively.
Sometimes the idea of war and terrorism is not that bad. For instance, Iran has recently said, ‘We are going to bomb Israel.’ Finally, acknowledging our existence. How long have we waited for our Arab neighbors to acknowledge our existence. We are finally on Iran’s map. Maybe not for long. But we are on it.
Syria says that it is nobody’s right to tell them that killing innocent people is wrong. Stick up for what you believe in. They are fighting for their independence. There are people in Syria who might not like Assad, and as any politician, he has the right to kill them. Many people make really dumb decisions, especially when it comes to elections. That is why there are people like Assad to make the decisions for them. So that they don’t make mistakes. You have seen what happens when you let people make their own decisions. We all saw the last elections.
You have to keep life positive. In Israel, no matter what, you continue to live. People show up to work the next day, pray, mourn and go to the movies. Just like when Bibi became Prime Minister again. You do not know what to expect, but you do know something bad has happened. The only way to win is to keep it all happy and good. You stay away from movies that Assad does not like and enjoy.
You live to celebrate each moment and Israelis don’t let any fear take control of them. We are out the next day. It is a terror attack, its not like it is snowing outside. If it was snowing, nobody would be out on the streets. Having a farm tractor plow the streets is national disaster.
I don’t know how keeping your daily life going is beating terrorism. That is what everybody says, ‘You beat them by not letting them scare you. Continue what you are doing.’ It is hard to continue what you are doing, when they are working on a nuclear bomb, to bomb you where you are doing what you are doing. It is hard to calm down when staying calm means I have to run to a shelter and find a mask.
Going on a cruise is probably the best way to fight terror. They will have a hard time bombing you there, and it is total vacation. Vacation represents freedom. If that is what the terrorists are fighting us about, I say stick it in their face and when they try to strike, take off a month from work. Unemployment is the only way to fight terror. If we are going to win the war against terror, we have to stop achieving.
You cannot worry. It is all part of the life, and us Israelis always sing that song, ‘The world is a very narrow bridge…and the main point is not to worry.’ That is the point, we cannot worry. Even though we are standing on a narrow bridge, next to a sea and the whole Middle East wants to push us into it, there is nothing to worry about. It helps us remember how much people hate us and how we cannot worry. We know they want to kill us. Why? I have no idea. But what they don’t know is that if they throw us into the Mediterranean Sea, it is fun. As long as lifeguards are watching, it is kind of shallow near the coast. Who is winning the war on terrorism now? Even if they throw the lifeguards in, they also know how to swim. So who is winning the fight against terrorism now??? It is the jellyfish, meduzot in Hebrew, always attacking.
I do know that I shouldn’t worry about it. I know the Israeli government doesn’t worry. Bombs coming into Israel, ‘Who cares? The world is a narrow bridge. Lets not do anything…They said they want to nuke us, excellent. Who cares? Its all the same…As long as they don’t hit Tel Aviv…Ashdod…nothing to worry about. We are not living in Ashkelon.’
As a Jewish kid, in the US, we were always worried about Anti-Semites. I lived in a sort of fear. We weren’t worried about people bombing or killing us. We had a greater fear that somebody might call us cheap while saying we eat bagels. That fear was greater than the Israeli’s fear of terrorists. I am not the strong minded Israeli who can deal with somebody screaming ‘Jewboy’ yet. That hurts too much. Those names. Sticks and rocket may break my bones, but names are weapons of mass destruction. What do you think about that Iran? So let me talk a bit about my childhood trauma which I still blame my parents for.
My kippah (Yarmulke, head covering) was the symbol that attracted the people that hated me. My kippah united me with around 30 other people in Rochester. My kippah also united gangs of people sharing the unified goal of kicking my butt. It always felt weird wearing a kippah. Even when I visited home it was weird. Yes, Israel is my Homeland, but I will not deny that Rochester is where I was nurtured and grew into the foundation of who is David Kilimnick Jewboys. People would get angry, ‘What is that thing on his head? It is not even a hat! There is no visor! Did he bald in second grade?’ Rochester affected my outlook as a Jew. I pronounce all religious Hebrew and Yiddish words with an eee sound at the end, because that is the way they did it in Rochester. ‘Go get the shmatee…we’re going to do the havdalee…we’re going to the JCCeeeee.’ Eeeee, because it is Jewish, and that is the way the old-timers who neither spoke English, Russian, Polish, German or Hebrew pronounced it, in their accent of a language that can only be Small-town-Jewddish. It was close to Yiddish, but not. It was close to Hebrew, but not. It was right. It was the kind of Judaism I love. The kind that has no real connection to anything. A small connection with a shule, the small community it is part of and an electric Chanukah Menorah lit on Passover. Even if all of the Jewish world were a totally different religion, I had my Rochester community. That is all I knew, and all I needed to know that there was heart and mispronunciation. And when I hear ‘chalee,’ it sounds more fun to eat.
Yes, the rest of Rochester looked at us like we were crazy. We were. We were Jews living outside of New York City. We were weird. But that weird is what gave me an identity. An identity that is hard to capture in Israel; where everybody is Jewish and the only way I can find identity is when I go to the shuk and feel awkward because I don’t scream when I shop, unless I am angry. So, I visit from time to time, to feel different, to feel Jewish. I feel Jewish when non-Jews give me an awkward stare.
A few years back, I felt like people at the movie theatre were looking at us strangely when we showed up to the viewing of ‘Passion of Christ.’ It was awkward sitting there as Jews, with my kippah on, laughing the whole time. But we were able to see who the other Jews when my father noted the other people eating popcorn. They also enjoyed the movie. I think the Christians in the theatre loved the movie too. It reminds me how two people can enjoy the same experience and come out of it with a totally different message. For example, when the guy in the white cone hat started screaming ‘Kill the Jews’ outside of theatre.
That difference is part of my identity as a Jew. The Christian audience has a hard time laughing at the Passion Play. I find anti-Semitism funny. The difference is part of my identity, but it is the beauty of the collective of Israel that allows for the greater connection to my people. Yet, even though I am here, I am not at the level of Israel yet. I still need to be reminded I am different. I need more disdain.
It takes more to wear a yarmulke in Israel. In Israel, it doesn’t make you different. It is not an identity. In Israel, it is a connection. The norms are hard to connect to, especially when they are me. I do not have much faith in a society based on being like me. I want to be unique. One of me in a society can be cute. More than that is mass unemployment. And I support that in times of terror. But I have to be different, outside of the norm. It keeps me feeling useful without a job. Every once in a while I play the guitar on Ben Yehuda to remind the matchmakers that I am not a good potential husband. Being a religious Jew in Israel, I have to find some kind of connection. I don’t want to find it by being the same. That would mean I would have to learn more Torah, and I do not want to put effort into my identity. It is the religious concept of Chizuk, strengthening. If I learn too much Torah, I will understand the Jewish laws better and then I will have to put in effort. I could have remained different my whole life, and had a personality. Now I am trying to be a good Jew and it there is a lot of worries as to how to practice the laws correctly. That is succumbing to terrorism.
I still want to connect with my child-soul of Judaism. But instead, I am just another Jew in Israel. I feel like I could connect better in Meah Shearim without a kippah.
That is why I thank Israel’s neighbors for saying they want to kill us. It reminds me I am Jewish. Their death threats make me feel warm inside. As if I am connecting with my Jewish routes. That is connecting with our Jewish past. I don’t know what I would do if the Messiah came and everybody knew that Gd was the King. I don’t know if I would like being Jewish if other people don’t want to hurt me. It feels like everybody would get credit. Then who would be better. Why would anybody want to be religious if they couldn’t tell other people they are wrong.
So I still keep my yarmulke. As weird as a kippah might look, especially the flashy reflector kind, I cannot take it off, or I am naked. It is part of me. It is even a greater part of me when I visit America. It is just as much part of me as a baseball cap in an anti-Semitic neighborhood on a warm spring day, with no breeze and no sun. I cannot throw away my youth. Nor can I throw away my tradition, even if it is for identity. And that is why I regularly visit Tel Aviv.