Reinventing Myself

I think one of the biggest draws of moving far away from home is that you get to essentially reinvent yourself: suddenly you are in a land that is completely foreign, and you don’t know a single solitary soul. Scary, but at the same time, there is so much room for adventure! Since being here, I’ve been Canadian, Jewish, worn a burka (once, as a joke, but still…), and barely talked about my own faith or family. I didn’t want to. I was afraid that my beliefs, my desires, and my self wouldn’t be accepted by this widely diverse, secular, energizing culture. I wanted to be like everybody else. I wanted to fit in. I didn’t want to try.

When did Israel become just like high school??

I’ve had incredible experiences here, experiences that I will never, ever forget, and never, ever relive again, except for in my memory. But despite all the great adventures, I wish it were easier for me to be myself. I think the combination of Israel, that dense, stressful, complicated word, and me, an equally stressful and loaded word, don’t always get along. At home, where everything was safe, I was still just beginning to unbutton myself and let my own soul shine through. And then I came here and was swept entirely off my feet, pushed by the wind and dust like a tumbleweed thirsting for water and life and Roots.

It’s so difficult to live in a country that opens people up and reaches down into their blood just to find the roots of its new citizens. So many people come here, move here, to return “home,” to the promised land…the Hebrew word is–aaliya–ascension. All my friends talk about it; those who have lived here and those who want to move. But these aren’t my roots. I’m not really Jewish.

Suddenly I realize how “American” my American education really was. The more I learn about Israel, the more I talk to people here, the more polarized I feel from everyone else…how is this a “promised land” when it’s causing so much pain to so many thousands of people??

That’s the question of time, I know.

But my American education taught me that we are all equal in the eyes of the law, and my Christian upbringing taught me that we are all equal before the judgement of God.

So then, why is everyone so angry?????

I know I’m judging, making blanket statements.  It’s an unfortunate symptom of my annoying, growing interesting in politics.

I know things now that I will never un-know. Some of those things I wish I could forget, only for a second, because at times I enjoy being blissfully unaware of the inequality and injustice that human beings inflict on each other. In all my ignorance and naivete, I still really want to help people.

But even helping people is not easy, because sometimes people don’t want your help. And who am I to say that my American way is the most successful way? Trust me, it’s not. That much I’ve learned truthfully from living in the Middle-East.

So why did I come here? I have to stop asking that question. And what will I do now with my life, now that I’ve been here and seen things? I have to stop asking that, too. Because before I came here I had no idea what will happen in my life, and after I leave, I still will have no idea what will happen. But I know this: that life is beautiful, no matter where in this world I am. Life is so precious.

Olive trees in the Golan Heights (another beautiful area that was won for Israel through a lot of blood)

My roommate Masha told me this, and I carry it with me always: When you leave somewhere, only take the good with you. Leave the rest behind. And remember that where you are going to, there is always something waiting for you there. This is the journey.