Ten years ago I left America and never looked back.
Well, actually that’s not true. I did look back. Alot.
I left alot of my people in America. People who I think about all the time. Family and friends and work colleagues. Good people, kind people, people who took care of me at a time in my life where I needed to be taken care of so I myself could take care of my own family.
Ten years ago, I was terrified. I was about to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in Israel, and yet I was leaving America, New York, Brooklyn and the town that I so loved, Cedarhurst.
Ten years ago, I stepped off that chartered Nefesh B’Nefesh flight into the blazing Israeli sunshine and I could barely breathe. I felt like I was watching myself in a movie and everything was happening in slow motion. In the background music blared, soldiers waved Israeli flags, and friends who came to welcome us grabbed us in joy. Isaac was holding a Sefer Torah, which was also coming home. Marian, A”H carried a sign that said “It took the children of Israel 40 years to make it to Israel; it only took the Brechers 16”. Marta and Tova were there. Ehud Olmert, then Prime Minister, spoke.
I remember thinking, I hope Ozzy the Wonderdog survived the flight.
We got to the apartment. It was beautiful.Tammy, a new friend who is now an old one, came by with watermelon. Channah, whom I hadn’t seen in years came by with a bag of shoko. Ahuva, a high school friend that I tracked down on the internet, brought coffee in the morning.
And so our life here began.
My girls were shell-shocked. We arrived after the school year had started, and because of that we spent the rest of the year not really understanding what was going on. Actually, the girls caught on; I still don’t understand how they got educated here, but apparently they did, because somehow they know things.
Isaac got a job.
I went to ulpan, where I (embarrassingly) told the teacher that I was going to learn to speak like a native.
(I seriously thought that was going to happen).
I got a job, and found more of ‘my people’ there.
We traveled. We went camping. We sweated in the brown, dusty desert and cooled off in the streams of the Golan.
We bought an apartment. Paid bills. Took courses. Ate out. Alot.
We invited people for Shabbat meals and were invited by people for Shabbat meals.
(Guess which one we prefer).
We joined a synagogue, and became part of a community.
We voted. Attended rallies.
We experienced Memorial Days, and Independence Days.
We went through the medical system and surgery and recovery.
We attended funerals of friends we loved.
And the girls–they grew and grew and learned and accomplished. They served and are serving their country and their people. They traveled and made plans and changed them. They are happy and they are unhappy and they party and they study and they work and they play and sometimes things go well for them and sometimes they don’t.
In ten years we have all lived a life. Sometimes it’s just regular and sometimes it’s spectacular.
But always, it’s Israel.
And it’s home.