A tiny thought for my friends thinking about their futures: the dreamers and the realists and all those in between.
Anybody who has spent a year in Israel post-high school is familiar with the phenomenon. We 19 year old products of Modern Orthodox American Jewry are sent to study Torah in Eretz Hakodesh, and inevitably, many of us contemplate whether or not we should stay in Israel. Some of us do, many of us don’t. Regardless, the nagging I shouldn’t be going back to Teaneck/Long Island/Westchester, etc. exists for almost every student at some point.
The guilt that can accompany the decision to return to Chutz La’aretz is incredibly real. I see it in my friends and I feel it in myself, and I hope I do make the decision to live here post-college. However, after many conversations with peers, I thought it imperative to share a thought for those in my position…
American Jewry is complex. We are educated to love Israel, but the idea of actually moving here sometimes sends our parents over the edge. Yes, there is irony in our community, and it’s frustrating to see us so often fall short of our goals. But I beg of you: don’t forget what the community has done for you. Don’t let your Zionism make you ungrateful for your education, your values and your outlook that come from the United States. Don’t think you should be devoid of Hakarat Hatov and your sense of obligation to those who you leave behind when you come to live here. You owe something to the community that put all of its resources in you, and you shouldn’t turn your back on those — families, teachers, and others — that made you who you are.
As I see my most passionate friends choosing to make their lives here, I can’t help but mourn that American Jewry will lose its most talented and committed people. I cry for the future children of the communities who will have lost the lovers of Torah, Israel, and the Jewish people. I pray that American Jewry will have enough motivated and driven leaders to sustain the community.
All the while, I will dance you onto your Nefesh B’Nefesh flight and rejoice over the greatest miracle of our time: that you can return home.