Yom Haaztmaut 5774: Three reasons why

‘Why did you move to Israel?’

We get asked that a lot, don’t we?

Here’s my #1 reason 9 years ago, and my #1 reason now: Children who know no differently…

The list of reasons for living in Israel grows each year I live and learn here. This year it grew by way of another Israeli kid. One more kid to realize a dream.

(Also, shwarma.)

Fifty-Two Frames: In the beginning

I’m not one for cheesy Zionism, but with my aliyah anniversary passing a week ago, and Ariel Sharon passing yesterday, and my submission down to the wire at 5:45pm, I decided, why not. This would be the week for that.

I had spotted this scene every day and neglected to take a photo until Thursday. It’s the newly empty lot (former forest) where building is planned in Tzur Hadassah.

This wagon is constantly parked there, forest or no forest.

So is the flag.

Week 2: In the beginning

In the beginning… there were rumors. Hopes. Posters. A flag. 

The difference direction makes.

The recipe for aliyah success is a complicated set of characterstics; not because what is required but because I think attaining what is required is seeded way before making aliyah.

I’ve mentioned creativity, open-mindedness and flexibility before. One other major ingredient in this recipe, I’ve discovered, is direction.

Now, direction is an ingredient for many successes: making the move from high school to college, making the move from college to being employed, independent and stable. Transitioning to the next stage of life, whichever that is, is a lot smoother if you know where you’re going, why you’re doing it and that you’re equipped.

Which is why, I find it funny when Israeli-borns are so impressed that in three years, I moved here, started a masters, got a steady job, got married, settled in a suburb, etc. They say, “Wow, I know tons of Israelis who haven’t gone that far…” Right. Because direction matters whether you’ve lived here all your life, or just for a few years.

A lot of people make aliyah because they lack direction. Some work it out, some don’t. Some people don’t make aliyah because they have direction and know it’s not in Israel; that’s not being anti-Israel, it’s honesty.

I also wonder if Israeli-borns view us as wealthy Anglos who obviously got this far because we had money coming into it. It couldn’t be more false; we were/are opportunists who are liberal when there is a knock at the door. Anyone can do that too, whether new oleh or vatik.

Opportunism, creativity, open-mindedness, direction, flexibility and honesty. It all works in hand-in-hand when you make it work that way.

On museums and Annapolis – shmalapolis.

Jerusalem is once again hosting חמשושלים, that period when museums go late Thursday nights and restaurants discount themselves for the weekend.We chose to visit the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. I never felt any specific or strong feelings towards Menachem Begin – the sixth prime minister of Israel and former Beitar movement head and Irgun strategizer. The museum always looked so fancy on the outside so we decided, why not?Menachem Begin

It wasn’t until the end of the tour that I realized the symbolism of my Begin education tonight, one of the nights covering the Annapolis ridiculousness going on. If Sharon were dead, he’d be rolling in his grave. They don’t make leaders like that anymore.

Menachem Begin pushed through war so he could get to peace. And that wasn’t consistent; it went back and forth, but at least it went. He did seem to think about what he was doing and who it would help or hurt; in the very least, he had emotions along with brains.

Ehud Olmert puts that to shame. In terms of mistakes and misfits, at least Begin knew when to step down. Begin exuded personality; he laid his beliefs on the table and stood firm, while Olmert is a blank stare of a man. Begin was a fighter for social justice, yet in the present leadership students haven’t been to school since last June.

Leaders today don’t have the kind of experience that creates the potential for… nostalgia. The big guns are dead or – almost dead. Sadat and Begin – these guys had balls. Where are today’s guts? Do good leaders only spring from tragedy?

I’ve purposely chosen to actively ignore the Annapolis goings-on. It’s the first time that I’ve been apathetic towards a ‘chance’. I’m another hard-working exhausted Israeli, tired of vomiting up cliches. I’m slowly paying my due; I made aliyah and live my life here, working hard to stay committed. How is the government completing their end of the bargain?

As a museum, the Begin Center wasn’t all that impressive, but I’m glad I went. I feel a renewed sense of spirit; not necessarily in the backwards American-Zionism way, but just as an Israeli citizen who knows that inspiring leaders have existed in the past and believes that someday – hopefully before more tragedy is done – they will rise again.