Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shalom friends,

Today is a day of beginnings - few of them are completely new, but all of them are beginnings nonetheless. This blog is an absolutely new beginning for me. I feel a sense of excitement and just a little bit of fear. What if no one reads this? What if alot of people read this? What if they like it, will it obligate me? What if they don't like it, will it depress me?

My hope is that this blog will in soome way contribute to a dialogue betwen Israelis here and Jews in North America about the nature of who we are, the way we live, what binds us, what does not connect us- whether we have commonalities or only anomalies.

As I wrote in my profile, for the last three years I was a shaliach (Israel representative) in Washington DC and I feel that the essence of my work was in trying to establish a meaningful connection between Jews there and Jews here in which differing voices were heard, myths put aside, relationships developed and ideas examined. I hope that some of that will be an outgrowth of this blog and especially that other people will make contributions. Let your voices be heard. I am interested in hearing them and I bet that others are as well.

So here I am sitting in my kibbutz apartment, having returned home to Israel two weeks ago. Many things race through my mind - the people around me, the sounds and smells and the fact that the heat is much more than what I remembred. I am home, but not yet fully flowing. I am very cognisant of how much I wanted to be here, but a week ago when I heard the old Buffalo Springfield song "For What it's Worth" with the line "there's somethig happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear.." I felt that those could have been exactly my words.

Now the beginings are less and the sense of return is more tangible. Today our son started 10th grade. Yesterday he spent half a day there with his class getting used to each other, the teacher etc. Although he knows many of the kids from his elementary school, how will this educational experience feel after 3 years in a community Jewish school in Rockville, MD? Our eldest daughter is starting teaching tomorrow . She is excited and scared - kind of like an emotional roller coaster. My wife also started to work today, although in reality she is returning with some misgivings to her former place of work. Not easy to go back after feeling that she was really making professional strides in DC and then returning to old stomping grounds where that progress and transformation may not be recognized or have an outlet.

I am starting a blog - just me, myself and maybe someone else eventually.

Random observations on Israel:

- In the US you don't see so many people smoking even if it has decreased here too.
- Last night I had a "Mexican dish" in a restraunt. Among the sauces that it was served with was tehina. Hmmm.
- It also blows me away when I see young children, usuallly girls, wearing t-shirts with absolute obscenities on them.
- I feel like I should write about the corruption charges aganst former prime minster Olmert, but it is too depressing and there will be more time for that.
- We have been deluged with invitations to come to spiritual gatherings in order to reinvent kabbalat shabbat, discuss the new year and sing nigunim. It is amazing. While it may be peripheral here, there is a spiritual vibrancy that many American Jews just don't see.
- Finally, speaking of the spiritual, the big news here is that Madonna is appearing tonight in front of an expected audience of 50,000 in Tel Aviv. Of course, she is also meeting Jewish and Palestinian politicans since the line dividing entertainment and politics is very thin here.

When we returned to Isrel in 1992 also after 3 years in the US, I felt that almost no one had any idea of what it was like to live overseas, return and reintegrate. Everyone spoke to us in a manner that sounded like - now that the plane has landed you should be here, with no mixed emotions, no sense of loss and no time for adjustment. That is not the case this time. Many, many people share with us their feelings and are sensitive to the fact that adjustment only begins after the plane lands at Ben Gurion airport. There is a real feelng that people can identify with the readjustment process. I wonder why that change has taken place? Is it becasue we are older? Is it becasue more people have spent time off the kibutz and especially overseas so they can relate more personally? I don't know, but it is encouraging.

That is it for now - more to follow tomorrow.



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