I must admit that I really admire those making aliyah now. I'll be meeting a plane full on Nefesh B'Nefesh this week. Israel is not an easy place to live in this summer, and if the Disengagement really happens, G-d forbid, I hate to think of what may happen.
This Shabbat in a upscale suburban shul I overheard a woman discussing that her child was going to Israel for the year. "I warned him that he better be careful..." Guess how she ended the warning.
What do you think this proper American Jewish suburban mother is worried about? Is it taking the bus? Is it the strong sun? Is it terrorism? Or is it something else? I'll tell you. She reported that she warned her child to keep away from demonstrations so he wouldn't be arrested. Beware of the Israeli police!
Out here in "golus" it's easy to be totally unaware that anything unusual or dangerous is happening in Israel. Nothing's mentioned on the news. Most synagogues are mute. Even the UOJCA (Orthodox Union) has decided to "stay neutral." I was in two of their synagogues on my Shabbatot and even though the Torah Portions are so suitable as springboards to the topic, nothing was heard.
Actually my Shabbatot here were very enjoyable at friends and relatives. I met lots of intelligent, committed and caring Jews. I heard one tell why he was going to Israel with his family, yes, on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight. They were returning to Israel after a number of years in the states. A reason the husband gave was that he missed how the country winds down before Shabbat. It's something you can't find anywhere else in the world.
This past Shabbat was particularly beautiful. In suburban Westchester, a mile from the local synagogue, a number of neighbors have a rotating Erev Shabbat Minyon. This week my relatives hosted it. I must tell you that it was one of the most beautiful experiences for me. The dovening from the livingroom was joyous and filled with kavanah. Our little Ezrat Nashim was in the dining room and on the deck.
I know that there's vibrant Jewish life in Golus, but it's still no excuse to stay there. It seems like everyone's kids go for a year or two to Israel after high school. Then they return "home" and go to college, and then... most return to Israel as tourists. I met one who did Israeli army service and then decided to look for money in America.
On Tuesday, G-d willing, I'll be meeting olim when I fly with them on Nefesh B'Nefesh. I'm looking forward to it. they are the heroes. It's one thing to make aliyah when life in Israel is looking up, like when my husband and I did. Today is a much greater challenge, and we really do need more Jews in Israel.
I don't know if I'll have a chance to write again before my return.
Batya in Golus
July 31, 2005
24th of Tammuz