There is a lot to post about, so I’m going to split it up into several smaller posts (with pictures when I get back from Israel next week). First up, some thank yous. We had two going away parties this last week and it meant so much to us to spend that time visiting with family and friends. So for everyone who helped make it possible…thank you. At this point in the process I expected to be fairly upset at having to say goodbye to so many people. (I usually get somewhat depressed when saying goodbye to people I care about.) This time, however, I feel kind of neutral. I think it’s a combination of two things.
First and foremost, it’s because of a realization that Israel, though far away (and a little expensive to visit), is not really as far as we may think. What do I mean? Two of our best friends moved back to Israel last year after four years in West Hartford, CT. Although the precise dynamics have changed, our relationship with them has continued to grow and develop in positive ways because of email, instant messages, and video chats. Furthermore, their successful adventure in America and how they maintained their connections with family while in the US, serves as a template for our own adventure. So thank you Elisha and Anat. Moreover, now having traveled back and forth a couple times over the last year, the trip seems less of an arduous journey and more of just an extended road trip. Perhaps it’s a little analogous to the first time one drives more than an hour on the highway to a new place. Its nerve racking because of worrying about things like getting lost or the car breaking down. The more one does this trip, however, the more it becomes just natural part of life, that takes only slightly more thought than breathing. This is what I have experienced over the last two days – the trip and navigating around the city is already becoming more of an organic part of the process of life.
The second reason why I think that this goodbye is less emotional is that I know and have known for the last eight years that after graduate school, I would be most likely be temporarily moving someplace far away for a postdoctoral fellowship. So this feels just like the next logical step in my career progression. The fact that the location is Israel and in Jerusalem, no less, makes it all the more sweet. Honestly, there is probably no where else in the world where I can find the same vibrant and well-developed combination of Judaism and academic research that suits me so well. Of course, the other universities in Israel also have very high caliber research departments and there is Jewish life all around Israel since it is the Jewish state, but Jerusalem is special both from a religious perspective and because of how my research interests fit with Hebrew University. In the end, I anticipate learning and developing in many different ways over these two years, and hope to return to the states enriched by this experience.