Five years. That’s how long it took us to finally make the decision to move to Israel and fulfill our dream. We packed up our life and our little 6-month-old, said tearful goodbyes, and left Toronto on a grey October day.
What pulled us here is what draws most people who come. The Jewish rhythm of life, the holidays coming alive, the abundance of kosher culinary experiences, the beaches, the nature, the weather.
We’ve been here almost six months. In between our bureaucratic appointments, in these first few months, we basked in beach outings, ate our way through the shuk, explored the scenic north, met people from all over the world, and settled into our new normal. We’ve loved every moment.
But as the country slowly locks down, feeling the uncertainly of what’s to come, I’ve asked myself — if we shed away all the layers of everything we had hoped to experience, what does the dream look like now?
On Friday night we heard the sounds of Kabbalat Shabbat. The singing wasn’t coming from a small minyan at the local synagogue. It was coming from families who emerged on their balconies to bring in Shabbat together. Eight balconies, eight families. Children’s voices rose through the air, filling the streets with songs. And here we were, all caught in the midst of a crisis, still, living a dream. Living it because even in a time when the world feels as though it is on hold, there’s an unshakeable rhythm to life here, one that continues to flow, no matter the circumstance. Living it because the Jewish spirit is so much greater, so much more powerful, than buildings can hold. Living it because we do not need to be physically together under one roof to feel a sense of belonging.
It’s no surprise. As a people we wandered, scattered, around the world for 2000 years and there has never been a distance large enough between us to break us. This is the spirit that’s kept us alive, that has allowed our nation to survive, to thrive.
And as we heard the prayers flowing through the streets, I thought about our grandparents. I thought about how in their darkest hours of despair, what if we had been able to tell them that one day Jewish children will be heard singing from the balconies of our homeland, collectively bringing in the Shabbat?
I believe in my heart that they would have teared up and said, now that’s a beautiful, hopeful, dream.