Kudos to Olim

While we are settled and happy here in Israel, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I miss home a lot. I don’t talk about my homesickness very often because it is always there, so it’s not worth mentioning. The only time it shows up in this blog or on my Facebook status is when the feeling of homesickness is stronger than normal. Otherwise, I have learned to function with my homesickness. It is something that will always be there, and I accept that. I am not ashamed of it either; after all, this is the farthest and longest I have been away from Connecticut and my family in my entire life. If I didn’t feel homesick, I think I would be a little worried.

As we have settled in to a community here in Jerusalem, we have met a lot of olim (immigrants to Israel) who have come from America, South Africa, England, Brazil, and many other countries. While getting to know them better, we have started to learn their stories. You learn about their families, where they grew up, why the decided to move to Israel, and how they deal with the distance. Some of the people we have met from America, go home in the summer to work at camps or learning programs. During this time, they get to see family. The people we met from England and South Africa go home on vacation and have family members visit. From our conversations with many different olim, we have learned that they always miss home and family, but they learn to live with it because their desire to live in Israel is so strong. When they do return home or family comes here for a visit, they make the most of their time together because it could be months before they are together again. Esther, who I babysit for, has been in Israel for 11 years and told me that it never gets easier, you just learn to deal with it. She said one of the hardest moments for her was when Matan (her 3-year-old son who I am in charge of 3 times a week) recognized the split in his life. She told me that during a visit to New York to see her parents, Matan told her that he wanted to go home (meaning Israel) but he wants to be with his grandparents as well. She said it was hard watching him come to the realization that he cannot have everything he wants in one place. His life, like hers, is divided.

The one thing that makes all this easier is technology. Because we have a really amazing cellphone plan that allows us to call America with unlimited minutes, we are able to stay connected to our family members that are not so technologically inclined. I talk to my grandmother 2-3 times a week, and Adam was able to talk to his grandmother at the Hebrew Home. He actually talked to her the Thursday before she passed away. Video chatting has also been a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with family and friends. It has allowed us to SEE our parents on a regular basis, siblings a few times a month, and the entire family at holidays, birthday parties, and any other family gatherings. With mobile devices, such as ipads and smartphones, we can talk with our family even if they are at a restaurant or if they are in New Hampshire on vacation.

Seeing everyone and talking with everyone on a regular basis has been amazing and great, but in the end, it is just not the same. We know this three-fold from Adam’s father’s visit this past week. The first moment when this was evident was prior to him actually arriving. It was at the end of our last Skype call with him before he headed to the airport. Before signing off, we said, “See you tomorrow,” and I couldn’t help bouncing with joy (literally) that he was going to be here and not on the computer. This moment was followed by a wonderful visit with Bill here in Israel. We had so many wonderful conversations, Adam got to show him his office and the Hebrew University campus, and there were a lot of fun games of ping-pong on our dining room table.

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As expected the time went by quickly, but it was wonderful being able to share things with him in detail instead of the little we have time for in our conversations. Our final moment that drove home the fact that being with family in person is not the same as seeing them on SKYPE or Face Time was yesterday when we took him to the airport to return to the US. We all felt like zombies the whole day; we dreaded the impending separation. At the airport I broke down in tears. I very much wanted to get on the plane and go home where we could see Bill and the rest of our family on a regular basis. Once we got going towards our apartment, the sting of separation lessened. I feel guilty about my melt-down but Adam said he pretty much expected it. I feel guilty because when I have these moments, it makes Adam question us coming here and for many reasons, I know that it was the right decision to be here. It is just hard sometimes, particularly when it comes to family. Oh well…it is par for the course when you live in Israel. Now we return to relying on iMessages, Skype, G-chat, and Face time until April when my parents come to visit.

So, the question that many of you may have probably started asking as you read this is “are we going to make aliyah?” The answer to this question will be revealed in a post by Adam in the near future. He too has been thinking about all of this, and started a post about it a while ago but hasn’t had time to finish it. With work and ulpan, he has been very busy. His insights into our future, however, are amazing, and so I want you to hear what he has to say on aliyah.

The purpose of this post is to be honest about how I am feeling and to give kudos to olim for making the commitment to the land of Israel even if it means being far from family and friends. It is a hard commitment to make, and I think they are amazing for making it with their whole hearts.

Until next time…

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2 Responses to Kudos to Olim

  1. labbygail says:

    Very well put. Rafi had the same realization recently since we traveled back to America for my brother’s wedding. At the beginning he was so excited and talked about all the people who miss him that he was going to see in America. But then about a week or two into the trip, he started asking where Jeff was. You could almost see the gears turning in his head.

  2. Troy says:

    Keep in the back of your mind that your time in Israel is temporary and remember that before you know it you’ll back in the U.S. Continue to find ways to enjoy Israel (the culture, the day trips, making friends). Be thankful for what you have there. Who knows, when you make your return back to the States it’s likely there will be pieces of Israel that you miss. Stay strong!

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