Guest Post by: "Big Abba W" or "The Perfect Husband"
Ever since we started telling people of our plans to move back to EY, I invariably am met with one of 3 types of replies.
The first is a happy wistfulness "Wow, that's so great!", "Good for you, I wish I was going too." "Amazing, I would totally make aliyah if it were not for X" (let X =spouse/job/chinuch/family/security etc.)
The second type of reply is a sort of polite acknowledgment combined with genuine puzzlement: "Moving to Israel? Um, that's good", "Oh really? Why?"
The third type, (which thankfully was limited to only a few people) is negative bordering on downright confrontational: "Why would you want to move there?" "Do you want your kids to get screwed up?", "Don't you know that the government hates frum Jews?" and (horror of horrors) "Do you want your children to grow up to be Israelis?"
Most of the time when confronted with the latter two types of responses, I just shrug it off and change the topic. The person either does not understand, or has their mind made up, so nothing I say will really make any difference. This post though, is my way of exploring exactly why we are going.
Why are we willing to uproot ourselves from a warm loving (if somewhat dysfunctional) community? Why am I going to subject my children to the trauma and culture shock of moving to a different country? Why are we willing to subject ourselves to the huge financial emotional, and psychological burden of packing up and moving 8 people overseas?
This post is not about arguing emuna, religion or theology. There are many great sfarim on the topic, and I'm sure there are hundreds of shiurim as well, but that's not what I want to discuss.
For me, it goes much deeper.
EY is the only place where you can truly feel that you are part of a greater whole- Am Yisrael. A place where, regardless of religious affiliation, cashiers, clerks, and bus drivers will wish you "Shana Tova" before RoshHashana and "Shabat Shalom" on Friday. A place where Chanukah and Purim are celebrated on a national scale by chilonim in the Shenkin and by Chasidim in MeahShearim. Going to the Kotel for mass BirkatCohanim on Pesach and Sukkot, or walking with the crowds to the Kotel before dawn on Shavuot night. You cant help it, anywhere you go, (for better or worse) you are reminded that you are part of something, something much bigger than sum of its parts.
EY is a place where every inch is steeped in history, our history. It gives you a sense of context, an understanding of where we came from, and where we are going. Just in the 5 mile radius of our new home we have the valley of Eilah, where David slew Goliath. The Caves of Luzit and BeitGuvrin- where Jewish rebels and zealots hid and waged guerrilla war against their Roman oppressors. NetivHalamedHeh, the rocky mountain trail where 35 young men, soldiers in the fledgling IDF, were killed because they showed kindness to an old Arab shepard. Each place has a story,a depth that is revealed, not by studying a textbook, but by walking the land, feeling the rocks and earth, living the history.To explore these places with my children, to tell them the stories, to give them a sense of perspective, is priceless.
The unique combination of the spiritual and material, the land and the people, the memories and the future, they all combine to something that is truly great, a massive endeavor, and we can take an active role in it.
This is what I want for my family, no more, no less.
True, these are lofty sentiments, and I probably wont experience or think about them daily, on my way to the makolet, on the bus riding to work, or waiting on line at the BituachLeumi, but they are there nonetheless.
At every major decision in life, we are always plagued by a little voice in the back of our heads, "is this truly the right choice?", but here, I do not doubt, I know that this is going to be a good thing for me and my family. True, my kids will probably grow up eating Bamba and drinking Petel, perhaps they will loose their English, they will have to make hard religious/cultural choices in life, they will have to sacrifice the best years of their lives for their country, they will be Israelis!
They will be BneiEretzYisrael, and that's all I can ask for.