Yes, her venture is fraught with danger, fears of the unknown and unanswered doubts and questions; “Where can we find Skippy?” And “Who will cut my hair.” Abby, her family and her friends are as much the hapless and helpless victims of the same insane, radical, relentless and satanic forces which have victimized Aref, his family and their friends.
I suppose I should wish Abby and her family a bon voyage, and best wishes for a happy future in her “new” home in “Israel,” but… considering the ramifications, I simply cannot.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
By ABIGAIL LEICHMAN
ON AUG. 6, my husband and daughter and I will board an El Al jet for a one-way trip to Israel. We will join our older son, who’s been there for five years.
It’s not that I was eager to leave The Record. Over the past 13 years, this has become my home away from home, providing me with a rewarding career and the acquaintance of wonderful readers and talented co-workers.
What is pulling me away from my dream job is simply a dream with more pull — a dream built upon many personal and ideological layers.
I understand the viewpoint of those who doubt our sanity for leaving a serene existence in North Jersey for a sliver of land in the volatile Middle East. But I prefer the viewpoint voiced by my Aunt Sarah, who in 1966 left a serene existence in Maryland for that same sliver of land: “Israel is not yet what it could or should be. Rather than staying away because it’s not perfect, you could come live here and help make it better.”
I keep that inspirational statement in mind as we navigate the logistics of a inter-continental move. Because before we try our hand at nation-building in our ancestral home, we’ve got to get ourselves and our stuff over there.
Many of the items on our check-list are the same as when we moved from New York to New Jersey 20 years ago: Alert the phone and electric/gas companies. Arrange for new drivers’ licenses. Put in a mail-forwarding order. Decide what to bring, give away, sell or discard. Say goodbye to the neighbors. This time, we’ve had to sell a house and two cars, and find new “parents” for our cat.
But there’s more at stake now than mere logistics. We have relatives and friends in Israel, yet we’re leaving some of our closest relatives and friends 6,000 miles behind. We’re quitting jobs we love and seeking employment in a
country where we aren’t fluent in the local language or culture.
We are trading dollars for shekels, miles for kilometers, 110 for 220 volts. We are trading snow shovels for solar panels, Stop & Shop for a neighborhood grocery run by a guy named Mickey.
Here, we live within spitting distance of the No. 167 NJ Transit bus to New York. There, we will live within spitting distance of the No. 174 Egged bus to Jerusalem.
We are swapping a grassy back yard for a patch of red-hued stones overlooking the Judean Desert — the same landscape Moses saw from Mount Nebo more than 3,300 years ago, minus the paved roads and satellite dishes.
Instead of national barbecues on July 4, there will be national barbecues on Iyar 5 sometime in May. “Weekend” will mean Friday and Saturday, not Saturday and Sunday. Milk will come in plastic bags; lox and bagels will be replaced by
tahini-drizzled diced cucumbers, olives and tomatoes with warm pita.
I don’t know who will cut my hair or who will give me my annual physical. I don’t know if I’ll like the family next door (they’re moving from Rockland County) or the folks upstairs (they’re coming from South Africa). I don’t know if I’ll ever stop feeling like a fish out of water.
I do know this: We already have invitations for meals well into September. Some are from generous strangers who “met” us through Internet chat groups for English-speaking immigrants.
These chat groups are invaluable sources of information. Which cargo shippers do the job best? Should we bring transformers or simply buy new appliances? For which national health-insurance plan should we register? Where can we buy Skippy and Cheerios if we get the urge?
Along with these practical nuggets come words of encouragement. Rotter, who moved to Israel last summer from Passaic, writes: “We are connected to this place and to the people here in a way that is almost tangible. Everyday
activities carry a new weight — like everything we do really counts now, and everything we did in life up to now was preparation.”
She’s not pretending it will be easy. She’s just promising it will be meaningful.
Abby Leichman is a Record staff writer. Contact her at [EMAIL PROTECTED] Send
comments about this column to The Record at [EMAIL PROTECTED]