Recognizing my limited thinking about where I live

This morning I was planning to take the 6 am bus to Jerusalem to spend time with a friend visiting from the States, but I was very under the weather so instead I spent the morning in bed.

Though I felt extremely sick and horrible, this was a good opportunity for me to have some time to reflect.  In particular, I thought about the responses to my post yesterday as well as two private emails from blog readers, which all touched on a couple of issues that have occupied a lot of mental space for me since moving to Israel.  These came together to become a powerful opportunity to recognize that I’ve been getting caught up in limited thinking that isn’t serving me, and that I need to be more honest about what would better serve me.

Sometimes we know what we want, but we’re afraid to be honest even with ourselves about what we want, because it seems too big or intimidating or out of reach.  So we tell ourselves that what we have is what we want.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very important to look for the good in every situation that is sent to us.  But sometimes we’re sent opportunities to expand ourselves that don’t immediately present themselves as such, and we miss our chance for personal expansion when we decide this is just how it’s meant to be.

Am I being too oblique?  Right now where I’m going with this is regarding the limitations of the community in which we live.  I currently live in a wonderful community that has many beautiful things about it; I’ve written about the many advantages there are to living here.  I recognize that we aren’t an ideal fit with the charedi community because of a couple of key differences in the positions we take, but I’ve found a way to massage our family into the community here.

I like the people here, and I think they for the most part like me.  There are lots of nice things about Karmiel – we have unusually moderate local school choices for all of the kids, boys and girls all the way through high school.   It’s beautiful and green and affordable.  We have lots of parks and a great bus system.  I love my home.  So it seems perfect for us.

And yet…is this really the best place for us?  To live here for me means making a conscious choice to live on the fringe of the religious community, to make choices that are different from those around me in order to stay true to what I believe in.  Though there are individuals who have similar views to us, they have all chosen to merge into the standard charedi community.  So I have to choose between living in a way that isn’t authentic for me, or to walk my own path.  If that’s how it is, I have to accept it and make the best of it, right?  Of course.

Or maybe not.  Maybe I can admit to myself that there are tens of thousands of people like me in this country – and there are – but they simply don’t live where I live.  Maybe I can admit to myself that I’m disappointed to find myself in a social situation that isn’t what I anticipated.  And I have been honest about this to myself and in private conversations (though I’ve only slightly referenced it here on the blog).  But I’ve focused on finding the good about the situation rather than consider the implications of the current limitations -I’ve been unwilling to consider that a move to somewhere else might better serve my family.

What keeps me from doing that?  Fear.  Fear of change, of having to start over again.  Fear of leaving the familiar.  Fear that there isn’t somewhere better, or more honestly, fear that if there is a better place where our family would find a sense of community, we wouldn’t be able to afford living there.  It’s painful to see what you want and feel like it’s out of reach.

So this morning I confronted myself  honestly- which is why I can tell you all of the above, because this is what I was thinking about –  and recognized that I’ve allowed myself to see the current situation as the best we’re going to find.  And I told myself, “Avivah, you have to believe that you deserve more and that it’s possible for you to be in a framework that supports you and your family.  Not just finagle a way to fit yourself in, but a place where you can truly be appreciated and have like-minded peers for you and your children.”

This is a scary thing to say even to myself, but particularly to put out in the public domain, because I don’t want to look foolish or unrealistic by putting forth a desire that I’m not able to actively do something about.  But this process is about recognizing that fears aren’t real, that we give them power by believing the limitations in our minds are true reflections of reality.  Recognizing fears is the first step in letting go of them and claiming a better future.

So now it’s out there – I believe there is a better place for my family than where I currently am.  I don’t know what that means practically speaking right now, but it’s okay, Hashem does.  In the meantime, I’m going to continue to actively appreciate the wonderful things about where I am.


19 thoughts on “Recognizing my limited thinking about where I live

  1. Yashar koach Avivah. It’s difficult to not know what the future will hold, and where it will be held. It’s one of the most unsettling feelings!
    It takes courage to face up to that

  2. Wow Avivah. Writing this up is very very brave. It’s hard enough to think these thoughts privately, let alone in public.
    We’ve been down this road a few.times, on different issues.
    Each time we managed to have some good thinking done, we felt Hashem took charge after that and led us the way. So far b”h all changes we’ve made or had to make were so much for the best in the long run that it keep amazing me. And sometimes the process just made us review our priorities and realize that we were in the right place and path, just had let ourselves forget what was important to us in life.

    I wish you lots of syata dishmaya, whichever way your reflections lead yoy.

  3. Wow! Once again, Avivah, you are showing yourself to be a truly amazing person, who considers all the issues and all the possibilities and all the aspects deeply and fully before making decisions.
    I have been amazed by this about you for as long as I’ve known you (albeit online) and you continue to do this. You are an inspiration to us all, to face up to and recognize all the limitations in our own lives and also to recognize the good in our lives.
    יישר כוחך

  4. Thank you for your honesty in expressing yourself. You have managed to put into eloquent words what I’ve been grappling with for a while, too. Trying to identify how to be positive about the current situation whilst concurrently assessing what would make a better alternative is unnerving.
    Yasher Kochecha for expressing what so many of us must be dealing with.
    I for one appreciate that you did this in the context of aliya and finding ones place within Israeli society, which is an issue I’m grappling with myself.

  5. I ask this question in the spirit of another person not quite where they want to be (in physical and other terms). Do you feel that is it that necessary to be who you are not or move in order to make your community (or other issues) work? We have lived (and are now contemplating again) moving to a place which not be quite what we want spritiually/Jewishly but has other aspects of what we want/like (since to move to the kind of community we would love to live isn’t happening so far). In those situations, we hunker down and live life mostly separate from the greater community — go to shul, hang out superficially, but not much else. Would you be willing to make this type of choice?

    1. Yael, what you are describing is the position that we’re taking right now, and I’m quite good at it. That’s what I mean by living on the fringe. If we don’t have a better alternative, then this is the position we’ll continue to take. However, if there is another place where everyone would be happier, then shouldn’t I be open to that?

      1. Of course! However, HaShem doesn’t always stick us in the place we think we ought to be, just in the place we need to be. I’m sure you and I both would love to live in the “right” community (maybe as neighbors? lol) We’re going to be making that decision in the next couple of weeks (again), so maybe I’ll daven for you and you’ll daven for me, OK? :)

  6. Yasher Koach!

    Good luck in whichever path you go!

    (If you end up in the Jerusalem area, my kids are at a school which I think you would love.)


  7. Good luck with your “klita”!
    I agree with the idea behind what Yael said. We have found a community which has many people who think along similar lines to us, but we also see the major differences in the thinking in the overall community. Lots of people have said to me they wish they had the time/courage/or whatever to home school their children. The educational system in our community is not a good fit for us or our child, especially the boys. We try to remain insular as a family. As far as our community is concerned we “take what we like and leave the rest,” but find a way to live with it! We are overall open with our children about this and we have discussions about ideals, the difference between right and wrong and accepting others as they are.
    Like a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel, the world around us is H’s wheel, we are just here to be shaped by it!
    all the best!

  8. Why don’t you move to Ramat Beit Shemesh? Is it too expensive? From reading you posts I imagine that you would have to find the right “niche” over there as well, but it is a diverse community where different folks can live with different strokes and usually find others who march to the beat of the same drum.

    It’s important to realize that you may not find what you consider to be the “perfect” place anywhere in Israel, and that’s okay. Many people do not consider where they live to be “ideal” for one reason or another, but they choose what they consider to be the best of their options and make the best of it. You can be happy and successful, both personally and with your kids, even in a place that has ‘minuses’. Sometimes realizing this can help.

    Good luck finding the city of happiness – remember to search in the state of mind.

    1. Yair, I don’t believe that happiness is ‘out there’, but something we find inside of ourselves. However, there are objectively situations that are more supportive of a person’s needs, and that’s what I’m referring to in my post.

      RBS has very little appeal for me.

      1. I understand and agree – there can be perfectly legitimate reasons to be unhappy with where you are. A person has to be very aware of himself and understand what is a need and when he is just seeing the greener grass on the other side of the fence. I did not mean to imply that you are the latter – in fact, you are clearly very self-aware and thought out. I was just suggesting that you might have to “settle” for inner happiness no matter where you are.

        Have you thought about Neve Yaakov (in Yerushalayim)?

  9. Once again, you’ve spoken my thoughts. How brave and inspiring to put it out there. Wishing you Hatzlacha in whatever you choose.

  10. Aviva, even though the Holy Land is accessible to most Jews who want to make aliyah and live there now, it is still galus. Until Moshiach comes, and we all have to make it happen in the most positive way (not through wars), not every Jew is at the same level of spirituality to want to make the Holy Land as our permanent home.

    In the meantime, one has to acquire spirituality through the Land, with all the challenges imposed by the people who live there. The Land is very very good, but the people has to live according to Hashem’s Will to see it. Tomer Devorah is very appropriate to study and acquire the midos that we need in order to uplift ourselves spiritually at this time before Moshiach comes.

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