Left Israel 1 year and 9 months ago…


It’s me again.  I’m back.  No, I’m not moving back to Israel, at least not now.  But I am back to writing for Times of Israel Blogs.

It’s been a long and eventful one year and nine months since I got on a Russian flight to Moscow on my journey back to Florida, where I was born and lived most of my life before making aliyah at 21 back in 2006.

I’m still not sure why I left Israel in March 2016, there were just too many reasons. I can’t lie and say leaving was easy, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The only thing harder than leaving Israel is…not just jumping back on a plane and just doing it….

I will be honest, I only realized that I needed to be true to myself this past week, and just be myself again.  I needed to do things I love (but in the past was too lazy to do), that is in this case… writing, writing from the heart.  I only decided to write this blog post about an hour ago on the car drive back to my apartment here in Florida.  I didn’t take notes, didn’t plan, just wrote from the heart.

There are reasons that I am going to start publishing here again, let’s just say that I was afraid to speak from my heart — due to work and the pursuit of work and a career in a field that I thought I wanted to pursue.  But now that I’m pretty sure that I need to alter the plan that I had since I left Israel back on February 28, 2016 on that flight to Moscow, I am back to being, just me.

Israel is an amazing place!  There is never a day that I don’t miss Israel…it is always on my mind.  Israel is a place of very high highs, and very low lows, it is a place of great excitement, and a place of utter craziness and tension.  It’s a place that…that you live in and love it…and you hate it.  You hate the people, and you love the people.  It is a special, neurotic place.

When I close my eyes, I can still find my way on the streets of my dear Jerusalem.  I close my eyes and I see my two sweet cats greeting me outside my apartment.  I close my eyes and I am walking down Jaffa Road. I close my eyes and I am in the Armenian Quarter guiding tourists and pilgrims to a place that they’ve always dreamed of visiting, and that I know so well.

I probably am suffering from a disease of the mind where you miss the good and forget about the ills of the place.  But I do remember. As much as I remember the HIGHS, I equally remember the lows.  And I do remember the lows — whether they were religious, ethnic, nationalistic, cultural conflicts, extremism, superstitious nut jobs, burnt out hippies, sub-standard apartments, crappy jobs, crazy taxes, pathetic pay.. I can go on and on.

And as for the reason that I left Israel in the first place?  In a nutshell. I had become Israeli and I felt that I was not only stuck in Israel, but Israel was driving me crazy.  I felt like a Friar! (If you don’t know what a friar is, look it up).  I made aliyah at 21 and thought I would never leave.  But I’m afraid that the Israel I imagined and loved, the politics, the culture, no longer exists.  I felt surrounded by neurotic, extreme, crazy people. Politically and religiously I felt Israel had run itself into an abyss of extremism.  I felt that I had sacrificed so much in financial quality of life for living in Israel that I was a friar.  And once I felt like I was a friar, I had to leave Israel.

I wanted to be free again.  Never have I felt freer than in Israel.  “Lehiot am chofish beartzenu” — To be a free people in our own land from our dear Hativkah…I felt free in my 20s, but with the dawn of the big 3-0 I no longer felt free. You grow up, you realize that you are giving up a substantial part of your income to your landlord for your substandard apartment.  You realize you are taxed like crazy. You realize you have no money, salary’s suck, you will never be able to afford to buy a tiny substandard apartment. You can’t stand working or interviewing at scam unethical places of employment.  It just sucks.  So you get scared and you run away, swearing never to come back.

But ills and all, Israel is a special place.  And you can’t just run away from Israel and never want to come back. It is an exciting place, you miss the HIGHS.  It is fascinating.  It’s a wonderful and magical place that noone who has never lived there and left from there can understand.  There is truly no place like it, and I truly miss it. I apologize to my friends here in the States who are tired of complaining about how I regret leaving Israel, and I’m sorry for those who don’t understand why I’d want to go back.

Anyways, I hope you can join me in my future articles here at Times of Israel.  I hope my articles continue to speak from the heart.  I am not coming on here to condemn Israel, but to speak my mind from my heart. Thank you for listening to my ramble.

About the Author
Aviv Benedix lived in Israel from 2006 until March 2016 and was a licensed Israeli Tour Guide. He made aliyah in 2007 from Florida and has a B.A. in History from the University of Florida. While studying to become a Tour Guide he worked in the largest archaeological excavation in Israel, the Givati Parking Lot Excavation in the City of David, the history and archaeology of the Land remain one of his biggest passions. He is also fascinated by the complicated status quos of this amazing country. He left Israel in March 2016, currently lives in Florida and is still trying to (but is closer to) figure everything out.
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