Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Bride’s Final Top 10: The Best of Israel

I’ve sat down to write this post three times.  The first time I opened a blank page, typed the title and closed my computer.  The second time I got halfway in, then deleted most of it and closed my computer again.  Finally, my third attempt I felt my final post was an appropriate end to the amazing year I have experienced.
 Maybe that is a bit of commentary on how much I have fallen in love with this country and how I can never quite be done with her really.   In four days we leave Israel and it is getting harder to say goodbye.  Even though we know as clear as day we will be back, we also know it won’t ever be the same. Like any great love affair, your first time is always the one you cherish the most. 

This year has afforded us the opportunity to completely explore our world, our relationships and ourselves.  We have discovered passions and unearthed strengths we didn't know we had.  We have grown to appreciate life and each other at a new level.  We have created a new life, a new family within her borders.  For that I thank her.
1.       Her Beauty.  Where else in the world could you sink your toes in the warm, blue Mediterranean waters, float in the lowest point on earth, climb the greenest hills of the Golan and hike through dry desert sands all in one day?  Here in Israel.
2.       Her Spirituality. Jerusalem is the center of the universe for the world’s three major religions.  It is hard not to feel the presence of God here.  A walk to the store turns into a history lesson, a daily commute passes through some of the holiest sites in the world, your backdoor opens to the land God touched.
3.       Her Warmth.  As much as I complain about the Israeli attitude, I know it is only a ruse.  Israel is one big neighborhood and we’re all just friends and family living nearby.  My dry cleaner told me she is sad she won’t be able to meet our baby.  My cabbie wished me blessings for safe travels and said he hopes we come back home soon.  No one is a stranger here and friendships are forged for life. 
4.       Her Humor. It’s dark, sometimes morbid, always sarcastic and more often than not, politically incorrect.  Israelis are hilarious and only those who have survived living in this crazy country could ever understand.
5.       Her diversity.   The bag boy at my grocery store speaks 5 different languages, my neighbor upstairs is an Argentinian woman, my ulpan class of 25 people was comprised of no less than 15 different nationalities, my best friends here are from Canada and New Jersey.  I’m a Christian gal from the South married to a half-Israeli/half-American Jewish guy, but we fit right on in.
6.       Her Sense of Community. Never in my life have I experienced such a deep sense of community.  Gilad Shalit is every Israeli’s missing son.  The terror victims are every Israeli’s brother.  Tragedies and memorial days send the entire country into mourning and we can pull 400,000 people together to rally to improve living conditions for our neighbors in one night. 
7.       Her Resiliency.  Terrorism, intifadas, unwinnable wars, internal turmoil, entire countries who wish she would disappear.  And yet she hasn’t disappeared.  In fact, she’s grown stronger, bigger, better through all of it.  It’s a beautiful thing.
8.       Her Contradictions.  The modern and the ancient.  The religious and the secular.  The freedom and the restraint.  The safety and the danger.  The happiness and the heartbreak.  You can have all of it in Israel. 
9.       Her food. Hummus, olives, shwarma, lamb kebab, hummus, schnitzel, couscous, fresh fruit, sweet dates, falafel, hummus, any of DH’s family’s Libyan dishes, warm challah, iced cafĂ©.  Did I mention hummus?  
10.   My family and friends.  I was accepted into DH’s beautiful family with open arms immediately.  They are wonderfully warm and kind people who profoundly love.  There are cousins, aunts and uncles who without them we wouldn’t have survived.  My mother-in-law has been our saving grace and my brother-in-law our dearest friend.   I’ll miss having my son grow up around his wonderful family here and I promise him every night we’ll come back often.   And the girls, you my darlings, are my heart.  Your love and friendship has meant the world to me.
I will end my final post with a request.  If you travel, visit Israel.  If you give, give to Israel.  If you pray, pray for Israel.  It isn’t the first time and probably will not be the last, but she is facing enemies who want to destroy the beauty I fell in love with and crush the spirit that is a beacon in a region of darkness.  We need Israel and right now she needs us.
Goodbye Israel, you know we’ll always come back to you.

9 comments:

  1. Aw, lovely post! I understand, it is very hard to leave, but you have good things waiting for you in Atlanta - and I will take you out for some good Persian food! It may not be as good as the hummus there but it is good :)

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  2. Thank you Israel for giving my daughter the acceptance and love you have to offer. She is leaving you to come home to her American family, but she will be back. Asher will be in love with you just like Cass and Ariel. Thanks for making my life fuller.

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  3. A friend forwarded your post to me--it has reached Fairhope, Alabama--and it brought tears to my eyes. I have been to Israel and as I tell my friends, one can certainly travel to places that are more beautiful or more fun, but one can never travel to a place that is more intellectually, historically and spiritually fascinating as Israel. I visited Israel with my mom, sisters and niece, a niece who was battling brain cancer. It was literally the trip of a lifetime. My niece eventually lost her battle but not before visiting Israel 3 times. She, like you, was drawn to its people and place in history. Welcome home Southern Belle. And thank you for raising our awareness of how precious Israel is and how precarious her position.

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  4. Debbie: Thank you for your kind words and sharing your beautiful story. Israel is a place like no other.

    Mom: Thank you for sharing this amazing journey with me!

    Andrea: See you soon fellow Atlanta expat!

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  5. Hi,
    I have so enjoyed following your adventure here in Israel and very much identified with your feelings. Having been here 17 years from the States, it has been a real roller coaster for me. Big ups and big downs. I am sorry you are leaving but wish you all the best in your new/old life.
    Avigayil

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  6. What a wonderful post! You did well :)

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  7. I am sooooooo glad you are here!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)
    Chag sameach!

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