Personal thoughts on current events, cultural events, Israel, Judaism, Jewish/Israel innovations and life from a Jewish perspective - read into that what you may.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

We Have Finally Returned Home!!

Chag Kasher V'sameach to all!!

This is our first email from Israel since we arrived last Monday. Baruch Hashem everything is going well. We have spent the past week taking care of all the beaurocratic stuff necesaary in the aliyah process, but I must admit, things have gone much more smoothly than they used to (at least compared to my last aliyah experience in 1990). Of couse there have been a few nuisances, but overall we really can't complain, things have gone pretty smoothly. The most interesting observation that we have made during our rounds to all the government offices is that most off all the government employees in these offices are Russian! It is really unbelievable. Every office has Russian workers, Russian signs, Russian publications, and it seems that the Russians have a lot of assistance in all their government dealings. it really has impressed me, thinking how different life in Israel might be if hundreds of thousands of American Olim came to live here too. What a difference such a large mass of people would be able to make on the makeup of Israeli society for the good. Chaval, most American Jews decide to stay in the States with their talents instead of coming here on mass to really make a difference (100 families a year from America doesn't have the same impact on a society as tens of thousands a year).

So, I'm sure everybody wants to here how we have adjusted to living in Israel, and especially Efrat, during these hard times. I have to admit that it is hard to get used to walking through the streets of Jerusalem with a sense of fear that something might happen, but we did. Since we came a week ago, we have strolled through Jerusalem's center of town many times. We were actually on Rechov Hamelech George a half hour before the horrible piguah last Thursday. Realizing that was a big shock. But it has not stopped us from stolling down Rechov Hamelch George or other areas of Jerusalem. It is not easy getting used to this reality, but on the other hand, life goes on, and we, like everybbody else, have adjusted to doing what we need to do, going where we need to go, regardless of the fear in the back of our minds.

But, with it all, we are so happy to be here. It is so great being back in Israel. So far we have spent a Shabbat up north, we have taken a train ride on the beautiful new double decker train from Tel Aviv to the north, we have been to an english speaking play production of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, and we have had a great time seeing friends and family. Life is great, life goes on and Beezrat hashem the matzav will come to an end soon.

Last night we heard a shiur from Rabbi Avraham Twersky (the famous psychologist). There is one thing he mentioned that I wanted to repeat for all of you. he mentioned that there is one aspect of teh seder that still puzzles him; he has still found no answer to the question why we dip a vegetable into salt water? After years of learning, he still has no answer to the question. The paradox is that the Rabbis tell us that we do it in order that the children will ask why we do it, even though we then tell them 'in order for you to ask why we do it'! Go figure! However, Rabbi Twersy said that that is exactly the point, there is no answer to that question and when children ask why we do it it is not only ok, but it is imperitive for the parent to answer 'I don't know why we do it, but we do it in order for you to ask why'. So too in life, we are always required to ask why things happen, but sometimes there are no answers to our questions, and that is the lesson itself. In today's times, we have no way to explain why Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael is going through such traumatic times, but yet we still have to ask why, and even though we have no answer, that is ok. We have to feel sad on the one hand for what we are going through, but happiness on the other hand, because even though we don't know why, God's hand is behind it all. Am Yisrael chai, and we will get through these harsh times as well. May this Nisan really bring the geulah and may we see all of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael soon (whether the mashiach comes or not).

Chag Kashem V'sameach.

Avi, Rachel and Yakir

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Aliyah Update

Shalom to all,

I just wanted to let everybody know that Rachel, Yakir and I are flying to Israel for our aliyah flight on March 17th. We will miss all of you from the States but we look forward to welcoming you to our home in Israel, whether you come on vacation or for a more permanant stay.

The following thoughts were mostly written for my own benefit, to finally put into words abstract thoughts that I have been having about our aliyah plans. If anyone has any fedback, please let me know.

I have to admit that going to Israel today, with everything that is going on, is a scary thing. Obviously, I hoped that our return to Israel would be during peaceful times, but HKB"H had other plans. Even though I would rather not admit it, I'm also scared about moving to Efrat in today's climate. I wouldn't be as scared if it was just me, but now I'm a responsible father and husband and I'm always second guessing myself whether I'm really doing the right thing by moving my family to a place that most consider to be more dangerous than other places.

Even though I have these thoughts, I still believe that moving to Israel today, and moving to Efrat today, is the right thing to do. It might not be the most rational, the most logical or the "sure thing", but I do believe that it is the right thing.

I feel this way because I ask myself 'who really is assured that they will wake up the next day breathing? Who is secure that they won't be hit by a car while crossing the street?' I always answer myself that the answer is nobody. Nobody is secure that nothing bad will happen to them. People might not realize it or just not pay attention to it, but no matter where one lives or what one does, things can happen to anybody at any time. We all want to feel safe and secure, but in truth we feel secure even though we really aren't.

So I then start thinking about what we are really supposed to feel scure about? And I realize that the only thing we can feel secure about is who we are, how we act adn what we do. That is really the only things we can feel secure about, those things that we control. Many of us feel physically secure with an abstract feeling that our surroundings are safe or that our neighbors are harmless. But that really does not address our needs of security. Our one and only security is our emunah in Hashem. It is that belief in HKB"H that can help make a person feel physically secure, because one realizes that whatever they have control over is the right thing to do, regardless of what may happen that is out of their control. It is the belief in God that allows us to feel secure in who we are, what we do, and how we act. It is that security that makes sure that regardless of what happens to us (injury, death etc.) that we make sure to live fulfilling and meaningfull lives.

That is why I know, that even though I'm scared, I'm doing the right thing by moving to Israel and to Efrat. It is a scary feeling to place my sense of security in my belief in Hashem, but I think that is better than falsely believing I'm safe from harm because I live in X place.

People can then argue with me that halachikly one shouldn't place themselves in a place of danger. I'm not a rabbi and I'm not a posek, so I won't even try to deal with that question in a halachik framework. But I do know that my blood is no redder than anybody else who lives today in Efrat or Yesha. And I do know that if people wouldn't live there, then no Jew would be able to live in those areas or visit those areas for a very long time. Yes I think that not enough is being done to defend all the Jews in Israel, especailly in Yesha, but that is not stopping me from rightfully joining those Jews in creating and maintaining thriving Jewish communities in the one place in the world Jews should not be barred from living.

Yes, it is dangerous in Israel today and I'm not going to Israel with a aflse sense of reality. But I believe that unless we live there, stay there and support those who currently live there (by visiting them, staying in contact with them, and, most importantly, by joining them) Israel might not exist tommorrow.