Sunday, July 02, 2006

Why I Am Making Aliyah

As the date of my making aliyah and becoming an official citizen of the state of Israel comes closer I find it more and more difficult to articulate why exactly it is I am doing so.

My reasons for wanting to move to the Land of Israel have always been emotional, largely. Of course, there is the whole "It's a mitzvah, and G-d wants us to," which, really, is reason enough in itself. There is the whole "The future of Judaism is not in America," bit. (If I may quote a friend who recently made aliyah; he told me a story about his grandfather when he left Russia to go to America. Upon leavng, his father told him, "remember,we didn't start out in Russia, and Chicago is not the last stop.") There's the whole "I want to be with my nation throughout all the birthpangs and tribulations of the Messianic era, not watching it on a 62 inch plasma screen tv and leather couch thousands of miles away," bit. I want to suffer as my people suffer; I don't want to be the one who assuages her conscience by sending money.

But increasingly, it's the emotional conncection to the land. I've been saying I planned to make aliyah as soon as I could since ninth grade. One could not say that the schools I attended were particularly Zionistic. And while both my parents fully support the state, and are basically Zionists, they never really drilled the militant Zionism into us as kids. I never even knew we had Bnei Akiva in my city until I went to seminary and heard from others about Bnei Akiva kids from my area. I'd never even been to Israel until I went in the winter of my senior year, to look at seminaries.
It cannot be denied that I had quite a few very close friends who were militant Zionists, and I can't exactly in good conscience say that their effect was minimal. Nor can I say with any definite certainty that I would be able to make aliyah on my own if these friends weren't already there/coming with me. It may be I would've anyway; I suspect something of the kind. But I will never know for sure.

In any case, the fact of the matter is, I never really had any desire to stay in America. To put it simply, there is nothing here. I mean, yes, of course, there are many institutions of Torah Study, many frum communities, many great Rabbanim, entire religous orginizations and institutions that do vast amounts of good in this world not to mention communities in great need of educational and various other sociological reforms that one might be able to say it's our responsibility to try to correct. But I can't help feeling those things are all superficial; a band-aid of Judaism to cover the vast yawning emptiness that lies beneath all life in America. To put it quite simply, I can't see any reason to be here. Not when G-d graciously gave us the invaluable gift of His land.

There are all sorts of logical arguments; one could bring up the Jews of the era between the Temples, when the prophets were telling the people it was time to come home now, G-d said so, and they didn't, because they were too comfortable, they didn't want to give up their large houses and businesses and whatnot. One could argue that G-d wouldn't have bothered allowing some forty-odd nations to vote for a Jewish state in 1948, and protect the same state in every single subsequent war from all her multitudes of enemies, if He didn't intend for some of us to live in it. Maybe more than some of us. Maybe if enough of us were there...ah, well, anyway. There's plenty of those.

And I believe in all of them. But honestly, my reasons have always been more perceptual than logical, and perception is always emotional. The more time I spend in Israel, the less connected I feel to that place in which I was brought up, despite the fact that all my family is here, not to mention a lifetime of memories and traditions. I'm kind of a sentimental person, too, very nostalgic. I have a hard time when my good friends redecorate their living rooms and kitchens, to say nothing of the trauma caused when I came home from my shana aleph to find my Mother had re-done the bathroom upstairs. It wasn't even the entire bathroom, mostly just the sink and the cabinets, but I couldn't help it, the place smells different. My point is, for me to feel disconnected to my childhood haunts and find myslef longing for a land I've only spent a year and a half out of nineteen and a half years in, is kind of a big deal. but the fact of the matter is, I no longer feel at home here, if I ever truly did, and I simply can't see myself living here for good any more than I could see myself living in Timbuktu. (Although, isn't it warm there? that might make it a more likely spot for me than here, anyway. I'm sick of the cold.)I wouldn't be able to stand it here, I'd go nuts.

The fact of the matter is, I'm not sure that I'm coming across in any understandable manner, I think I'm babbling, and I don't think I could ever do a better job of explaining myself, because everything's too jumbled up emotionally for me. But I can say that I sense that anything of any real importance that happens to the Jewish people in the near future will likely happen in Israel; and I can say that I want to be a part of my nation's history, not a bystander. I can say that I want to raise my children in a country where Judaism means something more than what you're wearing. I can say that I want to spend the rest of my life in a country where I don't have to wonder "what the hell am I doing here?" every time I look out the window.

None of these are arguments meant to convince people to make aliyah. I can't do that this way, because I'm too emotional and jumbled, and you can't argue emotion, it's either there or it's not. I'm not saying there aren't arguments for it, and I'm not saying I couldn't make those arguments, were I asked the properly leading questions. But somebody asks me why I want to make aliyah in 25 words or less - because it's the right thing to do, because now is the right time to do it, and because, quite simply, I cannot live anywhere else.


Blogger Tobie said...

Right on. There are a million reasons for Israel and I think that everyone has their own. Or several dozen of their own.

2:17 PM  
Blogger lkrak said...

nice post babes. as someone who lives with the consequence of making aliyah everyday - i can only warn you that with time it even gets harder to live here- you see at the beginning there is a stitch of idealism - but idealism runs out insanely quickly in this country and you're left with beuracracy, terrorism, no money, lower standards of living, stupid educational policies...etc. etc. and then the homesickness and nostolgia for america and home and all that jazz just gets stronger... but the point is - that its that irrational emotional connection that keeps you here - because there are those moments where you are like "G-d i love this country" and in those moments you know for certain that there is no where else you can be.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

I had another bit in there originally, about hardship and comfort; about how life is supposed to be a struggle, and if we aren't struggling one way, it'll have to be another. and on some level, we get to choose, to a certain extent at least some of what those struggles will be. I know that what you say is true. and every time I think of those frustrations, and compare it to life in America, the very ease of American life makes it seem cheap to me. I'm sure I'll feel differently a few months from now. no matter how realistically you picture things, reality still has a habit of hitting you hardest.but even in my most frustrating moments, I'll know that I'm frustrated in the right place, and that will make all the difference.

1:06 AM  
Blogger rokky said...

right on! but some people like the smooth life (me). even if we do feel a pull toward israel. being a spoiled american; i can't c myself living there. (have u tasted the water?? jk).
anyway i found ur blog on a mattisyahu search. it's quite interesting. blog the date u publish ur first book (about life in israel??) i may b on line.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

the book I write about Israel is a long time coming, I fear....
an intersting thing about the water; I was able to drink it just fine my first yr, but my second yr it gave me all sorts of stomache issues. I guess we don't always build immunities, sometimes we erode them with pipe minerals.

12:29 AM  

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