Last October I flew back to Australia for my Dad’s 60th Birthday celebrations which took place in my home city, Melbourne.I was in Australia for a total of ten days during which my Dad treated me to a day at the horse races, formally known as Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.
My Father, Willie owns a successful travel agency and often gets complimentary corporate tickets to events of this nature. On this particular occasion Emirates sponsored our tickets and we found ourselves in the Emirates marquee on Oaks Day in The Bird Cage -A particularly fancy, celeb filled marquee with all the trimmings.
After being there, and feeling completely out of place (I mean which Jew needs another excuse to get dressed up to the nines, wear some elaborate fascinator-Yes that’s a headpiece for those who don’t know and prance around in heels? It’s like Yom Tov for the goyim!) I started writing out a piece entitled “From ELAL to Emirates, and back”.
The piece was going to be about how much I loved Australia and everything fancy that came with my lifestyle there, but at the end of the day how happy I was to be going back to Israel.Needless to say, I somehow didn’t get around to posting that piece but on my morning walk on Yom ha’atzmaut I starting thinking about the topic again.
I was running along the beautiful new walking/riding track called Park Hamesilah which backs onto my Jerusalem apartment listening to the lyrics of a song as the grey clouds rolled in:
I was left to my own devices, Many days fell away with nothing to show,And the walls kept tumbling down In the city that we love, Great clouds roll over the hills,Bringing darkness from above, But if you close your eyes, Does it almost feel like Nothing changed at all? And if you close your eyes, Does it almost feel like You’ve been here before? How am I gonna be an optimist about this? How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
The words describe perfectly and succinctly my tumultuous relationship with Israel after having made Aliyah five and a half years ago. Since then I’ve spent many days, months and years of my life in Israel, questioning, wondering, complaining, pining for Australia and asking myself “What am I actually doing here?”. But as I hear the words, “And if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you’ve been here before?” and after having just returned again from an overseas visit to Australia, I can finally answer a resounding “YES”.
It does. It feels familiar, it feels like I have been here before, it finally feels like home.The friends, the experiences (dancing on Yom Ha’atzmaut night in Kikar Safra, with good friends and Israeli music to pick on one) and the challenges and the emotional hardships that my husband and I have faced together over the last five years since making Aliyah have not only bonded us as a couple (we feel like partners in crime) but also enveloped us in a deep appreciation of this crazy, dynamic, amazing, developing, intense, vibrant, innovative and sometimes infuriatingly magnificent country that so many of us call home.
So as I run on the beautiful musical track that brings the modern Jerusalem into the spotlight of the Symphony that is Israel’s Independence (Well done Mr Nir Barkat!), actually today, and every day, but especially on Yom H’shoah, Yom Ha Zikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, all I feel really is privileged to be here.
And I know, that after just having come out of Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron, that both my paternal Grandparents (Alleheim shalom) who survived the concentration camps and my maternal Grandparents( Aleyha shalom) who planned at one stage to make Aliyah but never did, would be eternally proud and probably nothing short of amazed at our journey on this crazy path that we call Aliyah.
So Happy 66th Birthday Israel! While I might not always be this optimistic every day (ask my friends about the colorful Facebook posts that I write daily on this very topic), I’d like to think that Yom Hsho’ah, Yom Ha Zikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, three specific days of the year, make the other 362 days of cynicism, frustration and angst worth it!