Community is People I don’t Like
There are those in Israel
The hardest aspect for a ‘religious’ Oleh from the Diaspora is community. The communities of the Diaspora, little clusters of Jews that pray together and force people to be at events in a synagogue every couple of weeks so that they can bring a gift, was Judaism. Outside of Israel, the Jews I knew were people who cared about me. They cared about every aspect of my life. They were nosy. I miss not having privacy. This does not exist in Israel. The rabbi does not even know my children, which he thinks I have. The rabbi didn’t even show up to the Bar Mitzvah of my nephew. He did not have to. The Rabbanut is paying his salary.
Why does the community of my Jewish childhood not exist in Israel? I can explain. Jewish problems already exist in Israel. There is no need to create more. The idea of the religious person is to not get involved and to just pray in a quick minyan (group of ten men or more that comes together to pray) with people who notice. And then to get out before somebody asks for help. Help is what people in communities ask for, and that is a problem. Help comes in the form of Chesed, and that means a problem for me. A chesed is an act of kindness people could do for themselves, generally messing up my plans. I am not one of the types to stay away from helping people, and I will give charity if there is a cute girl watching. However, aside from not being able to enjoy my fine dinner because somebody cannot afford what I am eating, there are countless other forms of help and acts of loving kindness which kills a society. If I pay any attention to anybody in Israel I might be asked to pick up their mom from the airport. I might be asked to help move a stuck car. I might be asked to babysit their street cat, as they are going on vacation and I said ‘thank you.’ Community does have its downfalls. That is why people in Israel do not say ‘hello’ or lift their head to thank anybody else. You say ‘thank you’ and the next thing you know, you are part of your neighbor’s community and helping her move to a new apartment. This is why community has not developed in much of Israel’s society.
Diaspora communities have a system worked into place, where you can greet people and not have to worry about helping. The system is called meetings. Meetings are where issues are brought up and discussed until the decision is made to do nothing. Dues are paid, so that nobody has to give charity.
When things relax over here and we need more problems, my dream is for the diaspora way to make it to Israel, so that we can have meetings to decide if we should help people or let them go hungry.
Please do not misunderstand. There are pockets of relative communities. However, I have yet to have found my childhood. Israel should be exactly like my hometown.
I can’t escape my religion. I am Jewish. It is part of me. There is no greater place to feel that than in a community in the USA. Yes. I am going to rehash this subject until it makes some sense to me. The having to act as a Jew every once in a while, throwing in a Yiddish word to be a Jew, is a great way to live as a Jew. It is difference which always had me keeping Gd’s commandments. That is not Israeli Jewish. You are a Jew in Israel as you are a person. People look too similar to Jews here. Thus, I have to find a different meaning in my actions of being a Jew. I moved to Israel to live the Jewish dream of being a gentile. Now I am confused. I can be a religious Jew here and it is normal. That is messed up. You can walk down the streets in Jerusalem talking to yourself and people are saying, ‘That is normal; He is just praying.’ You can get a TV dinner at a wedding, so as to look more religious than the next guy, to then see the person next to you with a double wrapped TV dinner. Nobody has a fridge light. You can open up fridges on Shabbat and not worry about sinning. You can purchase a fridge pre-made to not see inside, and it will be called a Kosher Fridge. Kosher, meaning normal here. Not seeing into a fridge, being normal here. There is more beach space for women time only than mixed. If you go to the pool at mixed swim, that is not normal. Wearing a little thingie on your head, showing your belief in Gd, is normal. To say, ‘I believe in Gd,’ is normal. To say, ‘I do not believe in Gd,’ is weird. Religious people are normal. That is not normal. That confuses a religious Jew from not New York City. The only other place that is seen is the Diamond District in Manhattan. Stores are closed on Shabbat. Jewish Holidays are National Holidays. I don’t get that extra day off to rub in my co-worker’s face, because ‘I am Jewish and you now have to work my shift.’ If I do not want to show up to work, I do not have to make it up on Sunday. Everybody is already anti-semite; we all have neighbors we cannot stand. It is Isreal and there are a lot of semites. With all this easy way of living as a Jew and no separation or difference for worshipping, I don’t feel Jewish.
How do I connect as a Jew in my new Home Land? Where are the people that hate me because of my religious practice? Who are the people that are angry at me for being Jewish? What reason do I have for being religious if it doesn’t bother anybody? I have had to find my own way, and I am still trying to figure it out. My method for the quick survival of a new Oleh: You can feel Jewish in Israel, as there will still be people that hate you for being your kind of Jewish. In Israel, you can even find people protesting your kind of Jewish. Large groups of corners holding up signs, ‘We are Jewish and we hate that Jew.’ It is beautiful and it helps with some semblance of Jewish identity. You cannot find such identifying and segregating Jewish hatred anywhere else in the world. There are pockets of communities coming together to hold up signs. B”H (Blessed be the Creator) there is some Jewish hatred. There is enough hatred of other Jews in Israel to feel positive Jewish identity.
With all the chances I have to connect through hatred and rally, I still miss that warm community which does very little. I miss the 80 and 90 year old men and women who care about me, and pinch my cheeks. Yes, I can identify in Israel and receive a smack or a punch, and yes hatred is beautiful, but protests don’t happen every week, and meetings do not happen at protests. The most I can hope for is to meet a cute lady who is also anti-giving charity, standing with me on the other side of the people camping out in the public park. Joining me with signs, ‘Camping is wrong…people want to play Ultimate.’
What may become of my religious actions? Of keeping the mitzvot/commandments? Does it make me a Jew? Moving to Israel, I don’t feel as a Jew sometimes. I feel like the mitzvot are the proper way to act as a person. If I am not better than anybody, what am I doing? Yeshiva taught me about being a Light unto the Nations. What does that mean? When non-Jews were around, I had to act good. In Israel, there are so many Jews around, I can be a jerk.
With all this new kind of Jewish connection and chaos, why Aliyah? Because we are much more than a religion. We are a culture, a society, a people, a nation. I am confused and I am distanced from my modern historical Jewish origin, and I risk my identity. But I do believe that there is a greater sense of community waiting for us. If it takes a fight to be accepted as an immigrant, I will be there. So that one day, my American manners will influence Israeli customer service. So that one day, I will be able to walk into a makolet/bodega, to have the store owner look at me and say, ‘Thank you. You didn’t have to give me your business, but you came by and bought a bag of milk from me. That is 5nis. Thank you so much. Hope to see you again soon…I had a real bad day, but you are a customer, you don’t have to hear about that…See, my daughter is in the hospital and I am smiling. But don’t worry about me and my problems. You need milk. For you…here is your 95nis change, proper, not all in coins.’ I will be there alongside the British immigrants in making Israelis more passive aggressive and subtle in their hatred for everybody. To teach the Middle Eastern Man to say ‘Hello,’ with a smug face. That is why we make Aliyah, because deep down, we as westerners know the world should be more like us. We have a message: English you idiots! That is what we speak! That is why it is called Jerusalem! You do not waste your time protesting. You get cable TV and a good fast Wi-Fi and relax, until the next meeting.
It is a longing I have for my past that I am ranting about over here. It is confusing in Israel, for everybody, as now stuff is not that bad for the Jewish people. I need more oppression to feel Jewish. That is my Jewish European ancestry makeup. We are together now and that is hard. The only bad I see in Israel is found in segments of the society. The society that choses to separate itself from the Jewish morals. Even if I do not know why, I am still keeping all these beautiful morals in this new society I decided to join. If I sound self-righteous. Hell yah. I fight the people that are not exactly like me. It is the ‘derech eretz kadma laTorah’ (proper action comes before Torah) concept that I fight every day. I fight for it, because I have to live in my Jewish homeland. Homeland, society, not just community. A society where it is the good proper interaction between people that we make sure to stay away from. I have tried getting out of Israel, but I cannot justify an existence where life will be easy and pointless. It is depressing when everything makes sense.
I decided to feel lonely. I am not even going to talk about family right now. Tears don’t come out on a Word document.