It’s been a very full three years. And as I sit here thinking about the blessing of living in Israel, I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that we are able to live here. So many people for so many generations wanted to live in Israel, and I not only get to live here myself, I’m also able to raise my children here.
I can point to many things about this incredible country that are wonderful, and I can point to plenty of things that are irritating. But I have a deep soul level feeling that this is where I belong. It was this feeling that propelled me to tell my husband I thought we should move to Israel along with our nine children that included four teens and one almost teen. And we did, just five months later. It was crazy or inspired, depending who you ask!
Many people have told me of having the same feeling of deep belonging when they visit, and that’s how it is – the Jewish soul and the land of Israel have a deep connection and the Jewish soul can never be complete outside of Israel. You can have a great life – I certainly did! – but there was an empty space inside me that wasn’t filled until I moved here.
Now, our ancient sages have declared that Israel is acquired with suffering and this is as true in modern times as it was thousands of years ago. It’s pretty much inevitable that no matter how well you plan, how well set up you are financially, with housing, friends, family, community….you’re going to have some curve balls thrown your way. And some of them are going to be major. I’ve shared about our experiences with that! It’s as if you need to be tested in some way as a preparation since living here requires a higher level of spiritual connection.
But life does settle down and – though I know I’ve felt life was settling and then I was hit by a car, and the next time I was feeling settled I had a can of cosmetic wax explode in my face – I write without trepidation that things have settled. Our kids have friends, my husband and I have friends, we are blessed to own a home that we love, we live in a beautiful city with lots of green space and beautiful views and we feel at home here in a way we never did in the US despite both my husband and I coming from families that were in the US for generations.
It’s hard for me to explain why our quality of life seems so much higher here, despite having much less materially than we had in the US. Part of it is the soul connection to the land, part of it is the feeling that life is simpler here, of relationships mattering more than stuff. My husband has been unemployed for over seven months and that’s not fun though it has precipitated a lot of growth for both of us (and I look forward to sharing with you when this changes!) – but our kids don’t feel poor. Life is just simpler. It’s more about living and less about having. Kids here grow up with more freedom and less fear than kids in the US, and this simple, wholesome life is what I want for my children.
You know about the Chinese bamboo tree? The Chinese bamboo tree has a very unusual growth pattern. For the first four years after being planted, it doesn’t break through ground. It looks like nothing is happening, it’s not growing and the person who planted it wonders if the seeds were a dud. But he keeps watering it, trusting that something is happening underground even where he can’t see it. And then suddenly in the fifth year, in five weeks it shoots up to over 80 feet! An ‘overnight’ success built on years of setting down an incredibly strong, extensive and unseen root system.
I often think of the Chinese bamboo tree and take encouragement from that concept. We’ve been sent many challenges since we moved to Israel that have forced us to look deeper inside and work through things we didn’t even know were there. This growth and development isn’t visible and often it’s discouraging to work so hard and see no results. But one day I trust there will be a shift when suddenly things are going to become so visibly amazing that it will be hard to believe how quickly it all happens. When that occurs, we’ll finally see the results of building a strong foundation by working through lots of hard times and continuing to move forward.
As we mark our three year aliyah anniversary, I’m happy to be where I am right now. My life isn’t perfect though I sometimes feel that it is. I have my family, my health, an amazing husband and I live in Israel. All of those took lots of effort. I’m so grateful to be living here, so very, very grateful for my life that is overflowing with blessings. And while I obviously have no way of knowing what the coming year will bring, I have a sense that we’re getting close to the bamboo shoots breaking ground.