To Israel,Jerusalem, I owe my heart, my happiness, and the renewed fortitude to achieve my dreams. November 15, 2013 I sat on the plane in NYC, convinced that the flight attendant would politely call my name over the loud speaker, explaining why I would not be allowed to fly to Israel. I had enumerated in my head, a substantial, if not slightly absurd list of reasons why I would be forbidden from flying. I wanted more than anything to be in Israel, but for the past few years I had wanted many things, none of which had come to fruition. I would best describe myself as the Mad Hatter pointedly told Alice, “You used to be much muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.”

I made two promises to myself when I landed at Ben Gurion Airport. The first: I would not return to the USA for at least a year; momentum is important. The second: zero expectations. The first promise was easy. I felt encumbered and worn out, Israel was the future. The second promise would take every fiber I had. It is hard to change one’s natural proclivity. I’m a calculator, I weigh the odds at any given moment and then define the best and possible worst outcome, it comforts me.

I did however, make a concerted effort to curb myself and try to let nature fall into place. My rewards paid off in dividends. My father’s entire family lives in Israel, as well as a few close married friends and my surrogate parents: The Shafners. I had people at every corner wanting, waiting and willing to help. I was too dazed and scared, (I came without a place to live, flatmates, scarce close single friends) to realize how blessed my foundation was and how sturdy my year would become, due to their kindness.

My flatmate, whom I previously did not know, would become my anchor, a sister and take my beautiful apartment and make it a safe haven; no pretenses, no judgement. I would come to spend countless hours sitting in her room/our deck area, smiling/laughing so hard, that I was convinced today, today would be the day our neighbors would ask if we could “keep it down”. Simultaneously, old acquaintances, would become dear friends, reached out, connected me, introduced me, and showed me the Israeli ‘hot spots’.

Each of these facilitators, propelled me forward, infusing me with strength and providing lucidity I didn’t know I had. Quality people are rare but in Israel, they’re abound. My fabulous friends/family kept introducing me to more remarkable people. Each time, each person was a thrill to realize that they too wanted my company. It was both humbling and exhilarating. In a moment of clarity, I realized: You attract who you are, not who you wish to be. Finally, I was stepping into the person I had always wanted to be. To all my friends, family, and helpers I cannot repay your kindness, time, or love … I can only respond with a heartfelt hakarat hatov; from the bottom of my heart, thank you! Each act of magnanimity, no matter how small, I directly credit to my emendation.

To pinpoint an exact import or series of moments to attribute my revision is impossible. Since I stepped off the plane, in my mind I weave a story. It’s filled with: tears, laughter, love, life-long friendships, stronger familial bonds, anger, deep sadness, illumination, prodigious joy and ultimately, triumph.. It would be impossible for me to enumerate the the life lessons I have learned. Yet, I came to Israel because somewhere along the way, I stopped asking Gd questions. I forgot how. If I can impart one lesson: never stop inquiring, what or if you believe is irrelevant. If you ask, if you search, the answers are there, waiting as a beacon to bring you peace.