Tuesday, August 12, 2014
It's my sixth day in Israel! My seventh day away from my kids. I miss them so much. My arms are aching to hold them. I've been trying to distract myself because it's making me really sad. It's the teeniest, tiniest amount of time away. It really begs the question - how have I lived this long without Max?
Being in Israel is really special for me. I love it here. Say whatever you want about the place - fact is, it's beautiful, it's diverse, it's complex, and it's endlessly interesting. Nowhere on earth do I feel like I am fully myself in the way that I am here. And there is no cult of personality when it comes to views on politics, religion or anything else. There are Orthodox Jews and Secular Jews and everyone in between. There are Christians, Muslims, Ba'hai, Druze and many more. It is a nation of immigrants- Russians, Ethiopians, Asians, Africans, Europeans, Latinos, North Americans. There are those on the left, those on the right, and those in the center - and the closer you get to the borders, the more you meet Israelis who really hold on to the hope for future peace. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has a thriving openly gay community and annual pride events. Women are respected and well educated here. Honor killings are illegal. I'm not saying there aren't issues - there ARE. I'm saying it's a place where anything is possible. It is a democracy in a place where democracies don't exist. You may not like the government (I certainly don't always like Israel's or my own government), but it is the government that has been elected by it's people. To be a Zionist Jew in the United States often feels like it means to support Israel - right or wrong. To be a Zionist in Israel means to believe in the dream of a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people in our ancestral land. I choose to be an Israeli Zionist - even though I'm only an Israeli in my heart. I can disapprove of whatever I want - but until I move here, my opinions are just opinions.
But what I really want to say is that every time I'm here, I'm moved in a different way. This time I was moved by a plane of over 300 new immigrants, including over 100 singles, who landed at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday morning. We were there to greet them, along with hundreds of others. The plane landed and bus loads of Olim (immigrants) pulled up one by one to joyful family members and friends, tearful embraces, whole families of t-shirts exclaiming "Welcome home so and so!", israeli folk music and dancing and flags waiving through the air. Unless you're a Jew or been in Israel yourself, you may not be able to grasp why this invokes so much emotion in me. I'm tearing up thinking about and it feels so awesome to be crying for something I find incredibly moving instead of crying for something completely devastating.
I've thought about coming here many many times to live forever throughout my life. I wanted (still want at times) to be able to be a pioneer, like the early community builders. I thought about it a lot most recently after losing Max. To be a parent whose lost their child can feel so isolating. Sadly in Israel, I wouldn't have to look far to find a community of grieving parents. I've found that for the most part, when I tell my story to Israelis- they don't try to talk me out of it. They don't think that losing my child is something I need to get over. They know exactly what it means to carry around a gigantic burden with you everywhere you go - and to me, that's refreshing. No pretending. No false nonsense. Real life. It barely gets more real than all this.