Saying that I woke up with a migraine would be the understatement of the year. Three Excedrin, a bottle of Pepsi Max, and one extra large coffee later, I am just starting to come out of the fog. It's been another rough week here, and I'm starting to realize just how intense living in the Holy Land can be.
The first time I ever came to Israel was when I was a young, energetic girl of 18 on the brink of my entire life; everything was new and exciting, everything it's very own experience. The time after that, I had been married for only 2 weeks, and we had just started the very beginning of our lives together, and we were focused on the novelty of being newly married and experiencing Israel together as a couple. The third time, we actually moved here. For good, or so we then thought. We had two young children and and third on the way, and life was all about focusing on ourselves, our new little family, and sharing E''Y with our kids. We were young, a little self-centered, and things were good.
This time things are different. They are still good, but this time I'm a little older. A little smarter, and a little less self-centered. This time we've arrived with a bigger family, older kids and for the first time, a real look into what it means to be part of the k'lal, the greater whole. It can mean more simchas; more births, more Bar Mitzvahs, more weddings. And sometimes the reality of being part of that k'lal can be tough.
Yesterday afternoon I attended the levaya (funeral) of a young mother from our neighborhood, who was suddenly taken from us. I didn't know her particularly well, but I went as part of the community that we've grown to love after being here less than a year. I went because after three weeks of fervently davening, praying for someone's recovery, you start to feel a connection. I went to show Hakaras Ha'Tov to a woman who was behind much of the organizing and planning of our shul events, making our community and shul the great place it is. I went to show how grateful I was to her for being someone who came over to me my first few weeks at a new shul, in a new city, in a new country and shmoozed with me to make me feel comfortable. I went because she and I are part of the same whole.
Exactly a month ago, I attended another funeral of a 15 year old boy from RBS who was on a bus going to visit his grandmother, when the bus was bombed by terrorists. I know his parents, but again, not particularly well. I went because again, we are part of one whole, and his parents should not feel that they are alone in such a terrible tradgedy. Apparently I was not the only one who felt this way, as there were easily over a thousand people in attendance. Last night was his shloshim.
A couple weeks before that, the Fogel family was murdered in their home. And while I would've liked to attend the funeral, I was only able to tune in live on the Arutz 7 website. The Fogel parents were the same age as myself and TPH, they had 6 children, and they were living a life with goals very similar to ours, and again, I felt that connection. I still find myself thinking of them at odd moments, and holding back tears.
I'm just beginning to understand how hard it is to live here. Given the financial difficulties, the constant struggle for peace within our own borders, the cultural differences, and let's face it, the desert climate, it's becoming clear why most Israelis look older and more worn than their American counterparts. The emotional stress of being part of this greater whole can be very trying. However, it also brings out a gratefulness that I have never known before. After each piece of bad news, after each tragedy, I find myself hugging my little guys a little longer, trying to be just a tiny bit more patient, and appreciating every moment with my spouse.
And like I said, it's still good. Sometimes we're just forced to push ourselves harder to see that good and to truly appreciate each and every person in our lives, and every moment that we are given with them.