A friend of mine from school wrote a great article about the difference between loving and being infatuated by Israel. He wrote about going through all the hardships that come with living here, but loving it nonetheless. It made me realize that when I talk about Israel to people who don’t live here, I mostly just talk about the positive aspects. Sometimes I feel that if I tell people who do not live here the more difficult aspects about living here, I would be admitting that I am not doing well and that it feels like the wrong decision. It is easier to talk about both sides to people who are here and see the full picture.
Last year in seminary, a lot of people spoke about how they ideally wanted to live in Israel but then listed the reasons why they couldn’t do it. That was always hard for me because I knew all of those reasons but decided to do it anyway, so it always felt like a little dig every time someone pointed it out, making me wonder if I really could do it despite that long list of reasons not to. I spoke to my teachers, all of whom did what I am doing now, and they understood exactly what I was going through. That was a relief to me since I felt very isolated by my decision.
When I moved here in October, I found a community of people who were going through the exact same thing as me. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone anymore.
On the other hand, I don’t want to say that everyone who doesn’t live in Israel doesn’t understand what it is like. Being in a gap year program has a lot of similarities to living here. Those students still have to deal with being far away from family and living in different standards than they are used to. It is difficult to coordinate time to talk to family and friends in Chutz La’aretz, traveling by public transportation is annoying, and feeling homeless is always unsettling. Those things are hard for everybody, not just people who live here. The main difference I have this year from last year is dealing with all of this on my own. Thank God, I always have people I can rely on if I need it, but for the most part, I have to do everything for myself.
As my Aliyah date approaches, I keep thinking about what my life would be if I decided to leave Israel. In my mind, it would just be easier. I would have my family close by, I would speak the same language, and I would have more help in general. But there would be something missing. The best description I have been given for the feeling is that it is the Kedusha here. That is what would be missing from my life if I moved back.
I don’t want to, God Forbid, minimize anybody else’s struggle. Everybody has something going on and their own issues to deal with. This is my struggle right now.
So as I look into my future in Israel, with all of its possibilities, I hope that I can have those things that I would have in America. I can’t wait until my family joins me here and I start one of my own. I can’t wait until my Hebrew flourishes and I sound like a native. God Willing, I will settle my life here and I will have all of those things. There is no doubt in my mind that achieving it will be incredibly difficult, but ultimately it is worth it.