Chavi Feldman

What you really wanted all along

I’ve been weepy all week – for some reason even more so now than the first few days after this wretched war began. Not sure if it’s because the initial shock wore off and the truth of what is happening is hitting me hard. Or because we’ve reached the 30 day mark with no new news of the hostages, or because of all the terrifying antisemitic activities that have erupted all over the world. Or because I’m supposed to be marrying off my daughter in 12 days and he’s still deep in Gaza and my daughter hasn’t heard from her chatan in over a week.
I was talking with a cousin of mine, Raphi Garson, who is a Rabbi in England and does a lot of tremendous work with JRoots. He primarily takes groups of all kinds – kids, adults, religious and non religious – to Poland, Morocco, Portugal and Spain.  Poland so we will never forget the Holocaust, and Morocco, Portugal and Spain so he can educate people on the rich Jewish life that was once thriving there.
He had called me because he was worried about us. I told him that I was way more worried about him in London. The irony of the situation was almost comical – me, living in a war zone, worried about him in England. Unfortunately, at this point in time, you can take a globe and spin it and anywhere you touch will be a place that has – without any trace of shame – vocalized their hatred for the Jewish nation, for Israelis, and for Israel.
The far reaching vastness of that hatred is mind blowing and difficult to fathom.
I made Aliyah almost 30 years ago with my husband and newborn baby. We had talked about Aliyah from the time we got married and knew it was part of our life plan. We were barely married 2 years when we started the process and I could not for the life of me imagine my life elsewhere.  Even now.
For us it was our Plan A.
It was a choice we made simply because we wanted to be here. It was a choice made from excitement, anticipation – sure, some trepidation too – but we were looking forward to building our new life in this miraculous land. No outside forces were influencing our decision in any way whatsoever – unless you count our love for Israel.
At the time, I thought about being the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors who had also immigrated to a new strange land – Canada -and how history was so cyclical, but the differences between my immigration and theirs were vast.
When the Charlie Hebdo shooting took place in France in 2015, which sparked the terror attack in the kosher supermarket which killed 4 Jewish people, it also sparked a surge in French Jewish Aliyah. Again I thought a lot about the differences between my Aliyah and theirs. Again, the differences were staggering.
And I found myself begging my sister to come. “It’s time,” I said. “Don’t stay there; it’s not safe anymore.”
Nefesh b’Nefesh just put out an absolutely heart-wrenching video that made me cry.  The lyrics of the song were so eloquent and painful and so full of hope all at the same time. In essence it was a cry to our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to join us here – to really and truly unite with us during this painful period of our history. The video showcased our brave soldiers dancing with hope, the broken families of the dead and kidnapped mourning their losses, the unbelievable acts of kindness of the volunteers, the destroyed homes of the kibbutzim in the South, the joyous and tearful faces of families descending the steps of an El Al flight bringing them HOME. It was footage of devastation and inspiration intertwined so deeply that you couldn’t experience one without the other.
And while that video touched me in such a visceral way, it also made me so incredibly sad.
How I wish that each and every family that CHOOSES to come here, makes that choice their Plan A. That they choose to immigrate here for no other reason than they REALLY want to be here; that they can’t imagine their life being anywhere else but here.
And not because they have no other choice.
Or because they are being chased.
Or because they are afraid.
Or because the antisemitism is forcing them to hide their Jewishness – and being a proud Jew in Toronto, New York, Washington, London, Berlin, Malmo, Buenos Aires, or Paris – or anywhere – is becoming increasingly difficult and scary.
That their “choice” to come is NOT Plan B.
And while I fervently wish that those who have chosen to build a life here are fulfilling their lifelong dream – a realization of their Plan A, we will be equally as happy and joyous to have you join us here, even if it is your Plan B.
And maybe over time, it will have transformed to become something you never knew you wanted but had REALLY wanted all along.
Lyrics of From Now On – The Greatest Showman
Songwriters: Benj Pasek / Justin Paul
From Now On (From “The Greatest Showman”) lyrics © Pick In A Pinch Music, Breathelike Music, Tcf Music Publishing Inc, T C F Music Publishing Inc.
I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
What remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
There’s more I gained
‘Cause it led me back
To you
From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited ’til tomorrow starts tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on
I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for
And from now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited ’til tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight
And let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on
From now on
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!
About the Author
Chavi Feldman has a degree in graphic design and advertising and works primarily as a music teacher. She has lived in Israel for more than two decades.
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