The holidays at the start of the year always spur self-reflection for me. This year I can’t help but notice the remarkable changes and growth our family has undergone. Obviously, Alli and I became parents with the birth of our first child, so that’s a huge change. I’m happy, though not surprised, to say that this has only served to strengthen our connection to each other as we work as a team to navigate the trials of parenthood. I can’t imagine doing this as a single parent. Kudos to all those single parents out there in the world. I’m so thankful to have such a wonderful partner in life.
One of the things that I’ve thought about a lot recently is how Alli and I work in tandem, my dreams becoming hers and hers becoming mine. This seems a bit sappy, but it’s true. I still can’t believe how well she adapted to life here in Israel. I know that it was a very difficult commitment for her to make and I’m so proud of her for the way she has made friends, got a job, learned some Hebrew and now is balancing all of those things with motherhood.
Another thing that’s been on my mind a lot is how living in Israel has changed me. I think there are subtle differences in mindset or perspective, but I’m also having trouble pinpointing these precisely. I think these changes will become more apparent when we’re back in the states. The one difference that I can identify is a growth in confidence that no matter where we go, we’ll land on our feet. In the states, you might say that I felt like a big fish in a little pond. I was very comfortable where I was as a graduate student and I knew that I fit in both professionally and socially. The same goes for the Jewish community in West Hartford. It’s very easy to feel like an integral part of the community when you’re frequently being called to help form a minyan or volunteer for bingo or serve on the synagogue board. In moving to Israel, we definitely stepped outside our comfort-zone and challenged ourselves to find a niche in this new place. I’m pleased to say that one of the most important things that I’ve learned is that even in this bigger pond, where there are so many very talented mathematicians and so many shuls with so many people attending each one, we still have something to offer. That is, in this new environment, we’ve carved out a niche for ourselves.
This brings me to my last thought which is a comparison of last year versus this year. Last year we were assembling our household, picking up books from the post office and hoping that we planned our finances correctly. This year our household is well-established and comfortable, our bookshelf can hardly hold all of our books (we bought a few more) and our planning paid off. Last year we felt overwhelmed, timid and tense. This year we feel comfortable, confident, and content. What a difference a year makes!