I have a life in the US of A where people depend on me. I have responsibilities. I am needed and wanted – and I both need and want. My day to day life is situated in a framework of both obligations and self-pursued activities. I seek rhythm and course correct as needed. At times there is an orchestral harmony in that rhythm that I fumble through creating. Other times the sounds are cacophonous. Right now the din is sustained and ever-present.
Since October 7th the well-constructed day to day has not felt substantial enough to me nor has it resonated with me in the way that it used to do so. The self-care practices (excuse the over-used terminology with that one) I have put into place are not consistently soothing to me. Some conversations seem like shells — and others are more nourishing and of what I consider to be substantive purpose. I only want the latter. I barely have patience for anything other than the essential.
At any moment throughout the day I find myself fantasizing about doing the thing that seems to be both incredibly primal and also intensely illogical: packing up a suitcase of only the necessities, making a few phone calls to arrange hyper local priorities, kissing and hugging my loved ones wholeheartedly, and flying to Israel for an undetermined period of time. I am not so naive or self-aggrandizing as to believe that my singular presence there is going to shift the tectonic plates of history. But I do have this unwavering sense that there may be rather few wake-up calls more important in my lifetime than showing up in Israel right now – to simply be and to support, and also to work, to make an effort, to co-craft a ripple effect of blessings.
I know that there are many subsidized opportunities for North American Jews to go to Israel right now for a condensed exercise in agricultural contribution, connecting with Jews and non-Jews on the ground, and bearing witness to what is with an intention (sometimes vague and sometimes clarified) of bringing the work “home,” whatever that may look like. That’s not what I am feeling called to do, despite the sincere intentions of such efforts.
There is the war that we read about in the news and gawk awkwardly over on all our screens. We discuss it in close quarters with colleague and friends; some of us may also protest loudly on street corners and in virtual forums. And then there is the conflict within – one which rages powerfully for me – a story of entanglement about who I want to be in this lifetime. If you’re reading this and assuming I have some level of privilege, you are absolutely right. I absolutely do. I am considering all this against a backdrop of considerable luxury of choice and opportunity. I hope as I describe these sensations you can set aside the realistic framework of what I am expressing here. I am not talking about the task of scanning Google Flights for ticket prices and unearthing my packing cubes to roll my t-shirts. This is about the depth of knowingness that tugs at one’s heartstrings in very rare increments and in ways that cannot be predicted. If you can bear with me on this one for a moment as I dig down beneath the letters and spaces, I actually feel like this tension is about the exquisite longing that accompanies the human experiences in raw and vulnerable forms. This is about the unlived lives that move through us and exist alongside of us – about the 3 to 4 other versions of me that exist right here, right here, that I can almost paw them.
The conflict within won’t be reconciled today, likely not tomorrow. I am living that longing through the hours and the minutes, while the current woman that I am is moving through the obligations and the pursued aspirations of today. I cannot help but wonder if you are too, holding your parallel selves like extra tote bags slipping off your weary shoulders. If so, I hope and pray that you will meet me where I am, at this intersection of being and dreaming, so we can find each other and build a blazing fire of possibility for all that we are becoming. I want to believe that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing – either I pack up & go or I am flailing about with no impact on Jewish peoplehood. That is a paradigm with a losing outcome. But I do know we’ve all come too far to wave a white flag now, and the passion and steadfast commitment that we exhibit in this moment – no matter where we are in the world – is going to quite frankly make or break what comes next. This right now is for the generations to come, so they don’t have to roam the desert or pioneer a land – because we did it for them, because we secured the land of Israel for them, hand and heart, mouth and prayer, song over song over song.