With many boys and girls returning to America after their year of transformation in Israel, I would like to share a poem I wrote a few years back expressing my deep frustration at the attitude of some American Jews toward the nature of life in the Holy Land.
It was inevitable, really
only a matter of time before those words
peeked from behind someone’s wry smile and
jumped eagerly out
at my indignant ears.
Yup, there they were
“Welcome back to reality.”
Welcome back to reality.
As if the past four years spent studying Torah
in the Land of our Fathers
soaking up every inch of Judaism
held in its deep blue sky and
had taken place in some dreamy pink bubble
or maybe it was purple
which had softly floated up, all smiles, naive and unawares
toward the unforgiving ceiling of “reality”
until it popped and rained down
a million colorful droplets
of all that is inconsequential
landing me here
tightly clutching the handle of my shopping cart
in this New York supermarket
confused and longing for Home.
As if all the experiences
the sights and smells
of a vibrant world
the mistakes that taught me so much
and wild successes that lifted me beyond my limits
all those glimpses of Godliness
and what is everlasting and true
the inner transformation
that changed my life
are relegated to an alternate and trivial existence
since it all happened
in so far away a place
where they don’t even watch the Superbowl
among people whose heads are
so very much in the clouds
that they could care less about living in
a big beautiful house
with too many rooms
or about driving the fastest car
of which there will be a yet faster model
though the speed limit
won’t ever change.
As if either of us were familiar enough with that word
to confer it upon this or that experience.
But from my vantage point of
a dual perspective
having been both physically born in your American reality
and spiritually raised in that of my Jewish perception
I have this to say.
It is my firm belief,
that one day,
my faraway Land of sponga sticks and bagged milk
of burning hot summers and bone-chilling winters
of wise mountains and sensible valleys
that vacation place of spiritual intensity
where each street beggar is
where Judaism is displayed on the table
instead of swept under the rug
to infuse every last vestige of this uninspired
with its inherent holiness and
And when that day comes
I will smile
and welcome you,
to my dreamy pink bubble
or was it purple?
and I will say
“Welcome to the real reality”
Yaakov Klein is the author of Sparks from Berditchov: An Inspirational Guide to Avodas Hashem recently released by Feldheim publishers. His essays on a broad range of Torah thought have been featured in print and on the web. Originally from Far Rockaway, New York, Yaakov currently lives in Chicago with his wife Shira, where he teaches for the Illinois Center for Jewish Studies and writes a column for the Chicago Jewishh Home. Dedications are currently avaliable for his next book, “Sunlight of Redemption” on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. For original inspirational content, or to contact Yaakov, like his Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/sparksfromberditchov/. Many of Yaakov’s other writings on the web live here: https://medium.com/@sparksfromberditchov.