I am thinking that I don’t know Hebrew
(long segment, but we are finished with the community topic for now- check it out- definitely offending people in this piece)
I cannot find the sources for what I quoted in the Rambam. That does not bother me. I am not going to ask a rabbi or anybody for the source. It sounds like something the Rambam would said. That is intellectually honest enough. If you are looking to me for sources, you are the worst researcher. I am an artist, and thus I create.
But I did find this source, in the Rambam Laws of Kings (5:12), ‘All who leave Israel, it is as if you are worshipping idols.’ Awesome. Love it. I feel so much better about myself and not going to shule to pray with a minyan/quorum. I could care less how much bad I am doing, and how worthless stuff may be. I am not living outside of Israel. That is my reason. The reason I am living in Israel is so that I do not live outside of Israel. Brilliant. I live in Israel, therefore I am.
Catch this. Got another one. Somebody who lives outside of Israel is like one who has no Gd (Em HaBanim Semeichah page 37 in the English version, Talmud Ketuvot 110b). We learn this from Yaakov who says ‘I will return in peace to my father’s home, and the Lord will be my Gd’ (Bereishit 28:21). Em HaBanim Semeichah goes on to bring other sources about how being in Israel is like having a Gd. Ketuvot and definitely the Rambam also have that part to it that talks about being in a place where Torah is rich, talking about Babylonia, but I don’t want to quote that. I like the stuff about people outside of Israel having no Gd.
Gd commands Moses the commandments which are to be practiced ‘In the Land that you are going to inherit’ (Devarim 4:14). This means that Mitzvot are only worth something in Israel. I am even coming up with my own stuff now. Love it.
I have no idea what it all means. It just makes me feel superior for living in Israel. I like that. Kind of like my excuse for not accomplishing other stuff.
So, I am here, I have lived up to the expectation of being a good Jew, I can relax and be a pointless member of society. I have fulfilled the Jewish mission, but I need that matzah factory. I need that beautiful community. Even so, I need it in the setting of reality. And that is Aliyah, getting off my tuches and making it happen in the reality of the King’s Castle. Making the reality of a nation happen, in the metaphysical splendor of religion; fighting for the sake of love and oneness that hasn’t fully been achieved. Not to run away from the reality for the sake of easiness and connection. Because that is not real and true. Maybe that is why I need to live in Israel. I love relaxing, but I am a revolutionary. As all olim, I have found the new frontier. I found it easier than the yutzes that moved in the early 1900’s, killing themselves to settle the land, with no air-conditioning. Walking from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, because Egged never showed. Finishing milk the day they got it, because there was no fridge. I don’t know what they were thinking, breaking their backs so that we could live here. They weren’t revolutionaries, they were just crazy.
I am an American. I will always be an American. I have needs. I have money. I have a green card, which could have landed me any woman eight years ago. Yes I made Aliyah, but I will not dig the land. And it is this one thing, this lack of ability to jump into the land like they were forced to do back in the early 1900’s, that has not allowed me to connect fully with my community. When there is need, there is heart and connection. I am not talking about kibbutzim, because those diggers did not dig for me. They were digging for their families. They won’t give me a home there. They are not socialists, they are familieists. A socialist is supposed to share everything. A familiest is somebody who believes that all that they have should be shared equally, by their family. I grew up in a home of familiests, as most Americans. The only difference is that we did not share parents. Do not get me wrong, I support and admire Kibbutz living. I want a home too. Adopt me.
Now I have to find my own community. They found theirs. The kibbutz won’t take me in. I have to find a place for a greater family structure. I will not give my child another 50 parents to screw them up more. I had two parents and they messed me up enough. I will not have another 50 parents commanding, ‘Go to the barn. The refet. They need you at the refet.’ Refet, let me educate you, means barn. This is all an educational work. No problem. Lets go on with the tirade. But I will dig. I have dug and my way of making it in Israel, as most exPats, is to dig into a society that has not been developed. To make the land more green and kind. Hire the correct people to seed the land, and bother them with my American moral fiber, to smile. Make Israel better, by teaching them customer service and how to run a normal system for regular hours of office at public institutions.
Many Israelis, when they listen to my tirade of complaint, say ‘Israel is not America.’ Thank you for letting me know that. Sometimes those details get away from me. It took me a while to realize I was living on a different continent. I have not left Jerusalem much. Everybody in Jerusalem that I know, speaks English.
I just heard that the highest rate of intermarriage of any Jewish demographic is Israelis who have made Yerida to America. Yerida being ‘going down from Israel’ or migrating away from Israel.
I think somebody should tell the Israelis living in America, ‘America is not Israel.’ I don’t think they get that when they move to South Florida. An American has to explain to them, ‘Not everybody in America is Jewish. You cannot date whomever you see, if you care to have Jewish children…Just because the sign says Jewish Community Center, does not mean they are Jewish. Nor does it mean that it is a community…unless your Jewish community is based on weights and doing preacher curls. It just means that Jews like funding it.’ With that said, based on the Jewish Federation, Jews also like funding intermarriages.
The point is that in a world where there are non-Jews, the only way to keep a Jewish nation going is by having Jewish communities who are judgmental and nosy. America is not Israel, but America is making its way to Israel. Many people make their way to Israel, and many of them are not Jewish. It is beautiful. Why do you think we have tourist who pay for their own flight and accommodations? Birthright is only taking people towards Israel, in hopes that a Jewish Federation will fund a Jewish marriage.
Israelis have to realize that we also need the small communities in Israel, to make this beautiful, to keep the Jewish nation alive, to feel more American. A Jew living in America cannot depend on anti-Semitism to keep them Jewish. Thank the Good Lord that Israel has neighbors that want to bomb us. At least we have something to keep us together. If not for them wanting us annihilated what would make Israel Jewish? What would allow the average Israeli to feel like they are part of a community. Thank you random passerby for hating the Jewish people.
The idea of the synagogue was for the people outside of Israel, a place for Jews to come together. OK, I might be wrong, as I have not read about it. I don’t need sources to make my point. Nonetheless, as soon as they made it happen, during the Second Temple Period, they started working with the small communities inside of Israel. It is the small communities that keep the Jewish community going. So make Israel more like America and understand that Jews are responsible for each other. At least we are responsible for making sure that nobody gets away and enjoys their life too much. Everybody should have to deal with Jewish in-laws. So which community do I join? I like the idea of joining the Yordim (Israelis that left Israel).
Before I make my final decision as to which community to join and more importantly where to live, I must take in this Israeli world and understand it. I am Oleh. I am explorer of new frontier. I am immigrant. I am broke. I have no idea what the hell is going on. I made Aliyah and I cannot get out. I might as well start arguing with somebody. I am pioneer and I must find other complainers. I must find a group of people that allows me to join, who is not sickened by my accent.
I do not know Hebrew, nor will I ever speak it well. I could have learned it in 7th grade, but we all got too angry at the teacher for talking Hebrew in Hebrew class. I spent 7th grade protesting, ‘How are we ever going to learn Hebrew, if the teacher is speaking it?…He must teach us Hebrew in English.’ And yes, we got him fired and I do not know Hebrew. I will not connect with Israelis speaking Hebrew. I have to connect with them speaking English.
The longer I am here, I realize I have no idea what is happening around me. They are right, Israel is not America. They talk about the news in Hebrew. I just went to a Friday night dinner and I sat for three hours, spaced out, no idea what they were saying. I learned how to say ‘Pass the chicken’ when I was in ulpan. I was able to eat chicken, but I never learned how to say ‘mashed potatoes’ so I had no side dish. They noticed I was disabled and they were disturbed by my presence; my talking distressed them. I don’t know much of what I was saying, they were all talking Hebrew. I am guessing they did not understand much of what I was saying either; as when I mentioned my plan for leaving the dinner early, they all seemed very pleased. About my brilliance, I just remember that they let me talk while looking at each other awkwardly. I guess they thought I couldn’t understand nasty hand gestures and sighful grunts in Hebrew. When I finished talking and they all said ‘Thank Gd,’ they went back to what they were saying beforehand. They blacked out everything I had said, ignoring my statement, as if it would have ruined the evening if they had acknowledged that I spoke. It might have been my accent, which I could understand would bother a room of anybody who cared about the Hebrew language. They might have discussed what I was trying to talk about, but I would not have understood. Oh, that meal prompted a breakup later that night. I guess I did not look like the most knowledgeable of people. It turns out that women want a guy who is a functioning member of society. Because women are shallow.
They accepted short witty statements I made and laughed, probably to shut me up. However, anything longer brought a sigh. I also realized that people do not like talking about whatever I want to talk about. Where I want to start the conversation, they want to end it. They want to talk about eating a tasty doughnut and then I want to start talking about what makes it tastier than the other doughnuts. People don’t like hanging out with the guy that likes staying on topics and killing them; the guy who brings out important points of issue, such as how much cream should be in a custard glazed doughnut. People like saying hello and finding out where people are from, and then finding out what the other person does for a living and how many family members are involved. That is the exact order of the conversation that people like having.
That is probably why most people don’t like having conversations with me, and the reason why I will not be joining their community.
I am American and as an American I have the ability to have a sophisticated conversation about anything that is pointless. I get a dry piece of bread, I want to talk about how soft it was and how it must have been out for a few days. The Israeli, ‘It is dry, ok- don’t eat.’ Israeli- ‘there is a storm.’ American- ‘Lets watch the news about it for the next 8 hours.’ Israeli- ‘I am tired, I sleep.’ American- ‘I am tired, I need to unwind and go to sleep after the movie.’
Truth is that I have no idea what they were talking about. I could understand each word they were saying, but I space out once people start talking Hebrew. I am noticing now that it might have helped if we had that Hebrew teacher back for 8th grade. If I cannot understand what people are saying, what am I going to be to the community?
I have ideas to change the way they run downtown Jerusalem for the teenagers, for people to respect establishments and the elderly people without calling them old, for parents to take more of a role, for there to be late night activities, for the country to move away from the corruption of the socialist power structure, but I cannot understand my property tax bill. I cannot understand when an Israeli responds with anything more than ‘Shalom.’ I am the useless member of the community here. And it is always the useless members of the community have the best ideas. I need my community to share my good ideas with. I must stay with an English shule to let them know the great ideas that I have, so that they can understand why everything around us is wrong. This is the only way we can have detailed conversations about stuff we will never do. At least then I will feel like I am having a useful conversation.
From this whole section, I have realized that community is what we are searching for. A person’s life is about searching for the right community, in the right place, for them. For them to feel useful.
Everything in this manifesto is finding a way to fit in and finding that way through my uniqueness. I want to be part of a community that will say, ‘David is right…the doughnut needs more custard.’ I do not know if people living outside of Israel are living with no Gd. I can tell you that the Jewish people outside of Israel are not dealing with national threat because they are Jewish. I can tell you that Jews living in Europe have to walk to synagogue without a yarmulke. I can tell you that Jews who move from Israel have a hard time finding their community of nosy Hebrew speakers who care about raising Jewish families. The familiests in America run it nuclear style. Where is the Jew useful? Is a Jew useful outside of Israel? Is having a Gd useful enough?
This whole book is about that search of feeling connected and useful. And for that, one must know how to get by, to talk the Israeli talk and yell the Israeli scream, to know how to celebrate the holidays the Israeli way, to know where you are living, and shop at the shuk without getting ripped off. Having Gd is useful enough for me. I am going to unwind.