About Me

I'm the Rabbi of B'nai Israel Synagogue in West Bloomfield, MI, a highly-participatory, traditional, egalitarian synagogue.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Back Home

Our first return to the United States -- a joyous whirwind. The wonders of family smachot (simchas). The glow of two outstanding, young Jewish teens – my nephew and cousin – demonstrating their readiness to be part of the community. American Jewish light bursting through its cloud cover. Resting in the toasty warm cradle of parents, grandparents, other loved and friends.

And then to leave it, them, behind. Again. A heartbreak. As painful as the first time, last summer.

We come back to Israel. I cry on the couch. Who I miss. Whose hugs I long for. Whose hugs my kids need, even beyond.

Skype is great, but we can’t touch.

I grieve the loss -- present and future.

Until I remember where I am, and re-experience the splendidly familiar moments which make this place – Israel – the place my heart wants to be. Where I need to be.

I do a 360o (a 240, to be truthful) and gaze at the homey neighborhood of mirpasot, porches, gathered close together. Where locals live a good portion of their lives in the mostly temperate weather of Modi’in.

One mirpeset catches my eye. A bouquet of flowers in the corner, in bright display. The romantic dance of a couple surveying its growth. A man with a kipa. A woman, long-haired, in pants. Real Israeli life, in all its typical, private moderation.

I walk back inside. Time for an early dinner on our cockeyed, post-flight biological clocks. The kids are watching TV, getting back to Hop, their Hebrew-language-dubbed cartoon network. With a few originals spliced in. Like right now. Shavuot is approaching, and on the air is a cartoon of Moses, Pharoah, and his magicians, dueling it out over snakes, blood and frogs. I can only smile. We have our soup and bourekas on the coffee table, taking in Moses at Mt. Sinai.

Shavuot as a liberal Jew in America was lonely. It’s barely on the map of liberal Jews in America, beyond the revitalized tikkunim, night-time study sessions, which dot the map of the more observant in our movements. Back in Modiin, there are no such concerns. My first check of email reveals a shul-wide pot-luck for the eve of Shavuot, with learning for all ages following. The phone rings with an invitation to Shavuot lunch. Problems solved.

I feel warmly in another cradle, that of Clal Yisrael, the community of Israel. We’ve returned to a cozy place that reflects our expressions, our schedule, even our needs from the boob tube.

I gaze above the trees of loss, absorbing the clearer vista of missing. It’s chronic. It never goes away, as fellow olim tell me. But there are soothants – the phone, Skype, and the visits, please G-d, that will continue to happen.

We’re back home. And it’s worth the missing.

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