Jasmine Esulin

7,605 Miles Apart on Mother’s Day

I have the most special mother in the world.
By some miracle I was blessed to be her eldest child.

Through nature, I was given her blood, genes, and religion.
Through nurture, she has shared with me her wisdom, depth of character, advice, spirituality, ability to listen, and resilience.

She is the least ego-centric person, yet she’s always right.

She’s not the most observant, but she’s more religious than anyone I’ve encountered.

She is overly paranoid, but has never held her children back out of fear.

She’s highly sensitive yet unflinchingly tough, a combination only she seems to know how to balance.

There is no love in her food, but there is in every other thing she creates, every deed she acts upon, every word she expresses.

Mother’s Day in Israel feels like a mean joke. The Aliyah guilt that is typically shoved to the very back of my head and heart rises to the surface every time the second Sunday in May rolls around.

I’ll be honest. I don’t want to be in Israel today. Days like this are rare and fleeting, but they do creep up occasionally.

I want to go out to brunch with my mom, hear her talk about the new diet she’s on and all the stuff on the menu she won’t let herself order.

I want to run errands with her, because I know how much we’d laugh while doing even the most mundane activities.

I want to blast 90’s music with the windows down as we’re stuck in traffic on the 101.

I want to speak to her about everything that pains us and everything we’ve been blessed with, in person, without factoring in a time difference.

Today I feel like being my mother’s baby more than I feel like being a die-hard Zionist.

Most days these two identities do not contradict each other. Because even though my mother wishes we all lived close to one another, she would never tell me to come back.

Her faith and selflessness are too strong. They override her longing, but not her love. It is her love that has allowed me to grow and become independent, never afraid to act on my beliefs.

It’s likely I’ll feel this way for many Mother’s Days to come (til the fam moves here too), and I have no doubt that there will be other “Lo Ba Li Aliyah days” that aren’t labeled in a calendar.

Days such as these are not the majority (don’t worry, Ema). But these days are a reminder of the bigger picture, and isn’t that why she let me move here in the first place?

About the Author
Jasmine currently works at Jerusalem U, a non-profit organization that makes films to strengthen the connection of young Jews to the land of Israel and their Jewish identity. As a Baal Teshuva and Olah Chadasha from Los Angeles, she's experienced a solid amount of humorous, upsetting, and pleasant culture shock. Sometimes she chooses to write about it.