We cast our lot.

When people ask me why I came here, my answer is that no matter what I believe religiously I’ll always accept the fact that by being born into what I was born I have no choice but to cast my lot with the rest of my people. So even now, as there is this man who I didn’t know personally, who came at it all from a different angle, the fact is we both did the same thing: we both cast our lot with the rest of our people. And for that I can’t not feel connected to a peer and pay my respects to one who made the ultimate sacrifice. It’s clear we are meant to make an impact… his legacy then perhaps is ensuring we are all on our paths to making our impact. 

Am I supposed to be here?

It’s been 15 years since I came out to my family that I’d be moving to Israel after university finished. It was two years before the ‘disengagement’, it was during the second intifada, a couple years after Nefesh b’Nefesh started. I was searching for a lot of things, but I knew this much was true – I was definitely going to live in Israel and I was most likely not going to leave.

You could take any 15-year cross section of modern Israeli history and you’ll get more than a fair share of critical events, national milestones, ups, downs. It’s not that my 15 year cross section is any different or special. But it’s mine. And it leaves me hanging, grasping to pull myself up off the edge of a cliff and the thing is, I’m not really sure what is back up there where I have assumed I belong.

It’s different than being an American, I guess. Firstly, I’m an expat; I can get cross-eyed all I want at the State of Things but at the end of the day, aside from a bare annual tax return, I go to bed in my Israeli village. And America is a Big Problem, a Vast Problem. I’m not here to be part of that solution right now.

But Israel… it’s small. It’s mine. Isn’t that why I committed to here?

According to the acting government, it is – by birthright – and it isn’t – by standards I don’t share.

According to the citizens, well, it’s shred to pieces. King Solomon would be so sorry.

According to the Palestinians, it sure isn’t but it’s not clear what it indeed is, then.

According to everyone else, it’s no one’s really. It never really was ours and it never really was theirs.

I’ve watched promise after promise, government after government, coalition after coalition, liar after liar… polarization gets deeper. If the people who hold the power had their way, would they want me here? Am I supposed to be here?

So what happens next? I work hard and pay taxes and watch it all go in a direction I don’t want to be a part of? I always tell other people the pendulum swings back… but how long will this one take? Fight or flight. What’s the fight for this time? And how do we get started?

I used to feel like moving here allowed me to be a free Jew. I could pray freely, eat freely, practice freely. Except I’ve never felt so unfree ideologically. Whose Israel? Whose Judaism?

I don’t know. 15 years isn’t that long. It’s also really long if your Israeli and [secular/ national religious/ charedi/ reform/ liberal/ conservative/ unsure/ of European origin/ of Russian origin/ of Mizrahi origin/ of Arab origin/ of African origin/ gay/ refugee/ mentally ill/ physically disabled/ war veteran/ grieving mother/ chained wife/ farmer/ venture capitalist/ country folk/ city folk].

For better and worse, we’re all here. Beyond/despite/within 15-year intervals, I don’t think any of us are free.

To Be Israeli is to Be Free

2004. It’s really… just a dream.

What if we don’t wanna be the toy? A Eurovision post.

It’s can be so hard to be Israeli. It’s can be so hard to get shit all the time, from every direction. To never be able to ‘choose’ a side because the game is always changing and anyway, there is no side to choose; you’re at the center of it by existing where and when you exist.

It’s exhausting to read headlines. To constantly decide what to believe and by how much. To feel like a pawn. To feel out of control.

And… I don’t even like music contests.

But… hearing a woman who has the same name as my sabra daughter make the odds after two months of soft hype from all over Europe…

…carry herself with the confidence of a first world Olympics host country…

…win the goddam thing with message in tact…

…tell Europe to think different, celebrate diversity…

…dare to exclaim that she loves her country…

…and invites everyone to Jerusalem next year…

that just has to take the wind out from your chest, even for a few seconds.

You know what was weird? The feeling of waiting with bated breath for every country to speak their vote and to actually believe, truly feel, to, completely normally, expect, that any one of these countries’ representatives would let Israel float from their lips…

To be Israel, and feel normal.

I watched the second half of my first live Eurovision alone, in bed. When it started to look grim I felt a deep sadness that this fantasy would end but it was, after all, just fantasy. And when the ending became inevitable – when it wasn’t 100% yet but it just might be – I wanted to hold so many hands, nervously sway with so many people… And when second place was announced, I wanted to scream. I’m not a screamer. But from under my covers, in my little dark room, in my little suburban town, in my frighteningly small but mighty country, I wanted to run out into the street and scream and laugh and cry and jump up and down with everyone, with anyone, all the oddballs who call this place home.

After the live broadcast ended, I went straight for the headlines. Even though I usually avoid Israeli headlines. There’s only so much pain you can feel daily. I just wanted to see matching headlines. I just wanted to feel ‘normal’. And hovering above the smoke and gun powder and falling apart cement and police uniforms and rocket trails was… Netta. Was a winning Eurovision country.

Being Israeli is so damn hard. There’s no normal. There never will be. I guess every country has its shit. But I’m not convinced it has to be this hard for every country. But for a second, it felt normal.

…and then I opened Twitter.

At 70, you get your own Snapchat filter.

Independence is affording the time to celebrate your existence.

Independence is getting your own Snapchat filter.

Independence is being proud of someone you never met named Netta.

Independence is the freedom to openly mourn your dead on your terms.

Independence is enjoying making choices on a global scale.

Independence is watching your kids grow up in a place where you chose to be and you are always.

Independence is being able to defend the people you love and the principles you live for.

We should all know and feel true independence, no matter where in the world you currently consider ‘home’.

Homeland insecurity: An expat on the labor of love and land

An expat is neither here nor there, not completely. An expat has their heart in two places. An expat has passports updated, ready.

An expat’s fomo is just another part of the gig.

United States of America:

I don’t know if it’s an apology I owe. It’s an acknowledgment, at least.

Over the last five years or so, I started feeling really, significantly disconnected from America. I started giving up. The feeling I’d never move back there by choice developed into more than a feeling; eventually a ‘known’.

I felt if I ever moved back, I’d be relocating to a new unfamiliar country. I mean this on a personal level. I came to feel I didn’t fit in the landscape. The culture.

I had fallen way out of love, way out of like, with my country, my people, my culture. Not a government thing – an everything thing. The whole picture. The inaction. The action. The priorities. The sensitivities. The personalities. The close mindedness.

I had cared so much but then I just couldn’t invest any more care.

And then this happened. A year and a half ago, everyone started talking about 2016. And it was ridiculous and I laughed. And I still couldn’t make the feeling come back. I stood by and watched. Until I started watching closer, until I started thinking again, until I started caring again. Until I realized I have something to say and for me, there’s still a place in the conversation.

And I didn’t have to ever want to move back to know that I do care and always will. Being away is what keeps me with you. Being away helps me be the best version of a patriotic citizen I can be. It’s an acknowledgment of the kind of relationship we have. It’s an odd but honest one.

Being away keeps me American.

Israel:

It’s time.

For too long I’ve used the American elections as an excuse to ignore you. The fact is, 2015 was so devastating and I just couldn’t pour anything else into this. Ever since, I’ve been angry, and ‘busy’ was a fine excuse.

But what if I was angry and busy, but for you, and not at you? I came here to be counted, I came here to cast my lot. There’s value in that and I will find it again. I will uncover it again.

I always wanted to come back around to political activism. This place is a fucking disappointment. It’s too painful to get involved but I don’t want to look back and know I didn’t do enough to show my kids what could be if we only work towards it.

America taught me that about my adopted homeland. After everything there in the past year and a half, I still care. I care about a place where my heart doesn’t beat.

Surely it is time to pivot back to the here and now. To where my heart beats in real-time. To where I chose to live. To where I’ve built a home. To where I cast my lot.

So what’s next?

For only ₪10.90: Sexism + newborn onesies!

What do you get when you combine a ₪10.90 clothing bin with a reliable dose of modern society?

Classic sexism, in newborn flavor! Here are just a few of the options I noticed at a clothing shop yesterday:

1. Money money money. And Daddy.

Nothing is more classic and sexist and just plain gross than “Daddy, buy me more!” with a picture of a pink credit card being swiped.

Or maybe she means, ‘buy me more college credit! I want to triple major!!’

2. Crushing on your doctor

I was pleased to see this one come in both blue and pink… so the baby boys can also have the hots for their (male, duh) doctors!

3. Promise we’ll keep this one going well into the 23rd century.

In my future book titled, Seriously? WHY Are We Still Perpetuating This? I will explore the reasons why we are making our baby boys into a. sex obsessed b. pedophiles c. who are oddly ahead of their age when it comes to interests.

Sex up those baby boys, parents!

Alternatively – inspired future gynecologist?

4. Ok nothing to do with gender, just weird.

A little boy who is so excited for shabbat to go out. A  universal sentiment. I actually almost bought that one.

5. Don’t get me wrong, I love puns…

Puns are always funny. 

But still, cats + flirting can only mean this girl has one sure thing in her future.  Unless I’m wrong and she will actually turn out a writer, maybe a B+ Huffington Post columnist.

And then I looked up from that onesie bin and realized there were SHELVES of this stuff…

And held my child a little closer before giving up on life.

P.S. Lest you worry your baby will grow out of her newborn onesie too soon, behold in the girls’ section:

Which, admittedly, all I could think when reading that was, then you have really wonky boobs.

Questions I answer for my kids on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Winner of this year’s national Poster Competition for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

I’m not against the early, introductory Holocaust education of nursery and kindergarten aged kids. I think it’s a reality and if done right and age appropriately, it can enrich as opposed to stir excessive fear. It’s a hot debate in Anglo-immigrant circles; many people are taken aback by the openness. But I didn’t move here to hide from reality. I would have stayed in America for that.

During dinner tonight, after my kids sang a song that involved a certain debatable chocolate cake, we got to talking about race – you know, the כושי conversation – and navigated toward American slavery – and swerved through what it means to have different skin colors – and landed on Holocaust. What can I say, my older kids had talks, lessons, ceremonies about it today.

“Those bad guys… ummm… what are they called again?”

“Nazis.”

“Yeah, Nazis – so did the Jews say nu nu nu to them?”

“Ummmm no…”

“But you said when someone is bad to us we should yell at them.”

“Yeah… but Nazis had a lot of power. The Jews had none. You know, a lot of people died.”

“Six million!”

“…oh. That’s precise. Did anyone say that had savtot rabot or sabim rabim that were there?”

“Yeah!”

“You know, ours weren’t. They were in other places. Like America.”

“And did they help?”

“Umm…”

“But America helped them?”

“…did they?”

“And England.”

“Yes… they eventually helped. England helped.”

“And Hashem!”

“Uh huh.”

“But if our savta raba is now 101 she was 30 when it happened?”

“I guess about that…”

“Because it was 71 years ago…”

“That’s also precise…”

“I did subtraction!”

“You sure do learn a lot in school.”

 

 

 

 

Next year in… your country.

Something really extraordinary happened at work today. In startup world. In the center of Jerusalem.

We had the pre-Passover הרמת כוסית, or company holiday toast. Our CEO spoke a few words, leading to how blown away he is by how the company is growing, both in team… and in the number of pregnant women.

Then he asked a question that’s been on my mind for nearly two years since I started there: **How do you manage to do it? Work full time, maintain your home, care for kids/manage pregnancy?**

As a woman, a mother, a full timer in the work force, it will never get old for me to hear an accomplished 60yo man wonder about this. Without a patronizing tone. Without cynicism. Pure wonder.

I was raised on a lot of equality talk – the power 80s, Take Your Daughter to Work Day, one day there could be a female president.

But nothing means as much or says as much as raising a glass at a company lunch where the CEO calls for blessing the pregnant team members, hiring even more women, and further supporting growing families.

On the eve of a paid maternity leave courtesy of a family-oriented country… it’s not something I take lightly.

Next year in… your country.