I GOT IT ALL WRONG
I have been writing about Israel for more than a year, but I have been writing about Jewish matters for approximately four years.
I stand by everything I have composed on Jewish culture, Judaism the religion, Jewish identity, Jewish ethics, The Practice of Cyber Judaism and my opinions on diaspora Jewry.
However, I cannot cling to the totality of the body of work I have written concerning all things Israel. I was writing from the perspective of an American Jew, a diaspora Jew and an armchair Zionist activist.
I left the U.S. on January 15th, 2016. Since that time, I have fully immersed myself in Israeli culture. I have spent each day at Ulpan-Or learning Hebrew and practicing each evening. In fact, I am going to practice writing my blog in Hebrew because I have come to the realization that my audience is not the diaspora; it is Israel.
I was working on a book two years ago and I have set it aside to pursue more pressing matters. The book was to be fictional about a woman named Marin and her life story. The truth is that the book was an autobiography and I was planning to publish it under a pseudonym.
Additionally I was pursuing another credential through graduate school as a continuation of my academic passion for Judaic Studies. I have abandon this too.
As a result of living here in Jerusalem it has become crystal that I am to make Aliyah.
I am rather terrified. I have to sell my home, the one I chose, the one I fought with my spouse over, the one that is an expression of my aesthetic and who I am.
It is my dream loft, the most fantastical space I could have ever hoped for. Yet I am going to give it all up.
I am even leaving my spouse behind, the man who has made my life possible and stood by side through many tribulations. I have a daughter in college who I would die for, yet I am leaving her too. I have a sister who knows me better than anyone and I am also leaving her.
I am leaving my rabbi, my great spiritual mentor who has helped me become the Jew I am today. I am leaving my favorite colleague and drinking buddy (he knows who he is). I am leaving my favorite Zio I met on Facebook who lives only five hours from me in the U.S. whom I have come to treasure and adore.
I might even be leaving my dog, my greatest companion of all.
Israel doesn’t need a social media war. Israel doesn’t need armchair Zionism and cyber hasbara. Israel needs Jews. Israel needs us to make our annual charitable donations to organizations HERE in Israel, not Jewish institutions abroad. Israel needs us to invest our 401(k), our IRA and any other form of retirement or investment in Israeli companies by purchasing stock and investing in their economy. Israel needs us to visit each year and if that is not possible, than biennially.
You take your kids to Disney; you are willing to save up to take a cruise- consider Israel as your destination instead. Israel needs you to see, listen and feel her. She doesn’t need you to read about her or discuss her to death.
Some of you will think that I am implying that the entire diaspora make Aliyah and that I am criticizing those of you are are social media Zionist activists. No, that is not what I am saying because that is not realistic and I would not make a preposterous request. I am putting my suggestions out there as a form of encouragement to provoke some of you who are already on the fence in terms of making more of a commitment to Israel through real life activities, investments and perhaps Aliyah.
Each day I become a little bit more Israeli. What does that even mean? It means that I do not lose sleep over the conflict anymore. Israelis sure as hell don’t; they get up every morning and go on with their life no matter who has been stabbed, shot, lied about or betrayed.
They don’t have the luxury of pondering hours away on social media arguing about settlements, boarders, Arab Israeli relations, the way the international community views them, the way the UN treats them or how the U.S. elections factor into the Israeli government.
Is it because they don’t care? That is a part of the whole, but there is much more to it. After my short stint of living here there is something rather clear to me. This place is either a miracle (if you believe in such a thing) or this place has the most self-determined peoplehood on the face of the earth. I am convinced of the following:
- Israel needs no ones permission to exist.
- Israel will exist whether or not there is ever an independent Palestine state or a territory under its control contained within it.
- Israel doesn’t care if the international community lies about them all damn day.
- Israel doesn’t care if you are on social media defending them or bashing them.
- Israel is busy. Busy living, working, preventing attacks and protecting its citizens. She is creating, thriving, laughing, dancing, eating, drinking and smoking. They are busy growing, learning, inventing, developing and all of this is happening at a rapid pace that I have never seen the likes of before.
If Israel did not focus on all that I have just mentioned, she would cease to exist. Time only moves in one direction- forward. Time does not go backwards. The only way for Israel to not just maintain, but progress, is to keep moving forward. If she were to stop in the middle of her busy life and set aside all of her responsibilities in order to take a look and a listen to what you all say, do and think about her- it would become a diversion. It would be a distraction and it would deplete her resources away from all that she must continuously accomplish.
You, the diaspora have a job. You get to do all the worrying, explaining and defending for her. Thank you for that, but please understand that in the hierarchy of priorities, she must be freed up to pursue her existence. She cannot afford to be weighed down by negativity, sadness, hopelessness, criticism, hate, controversy or seeking the approval of others.
I know some of you ache for her deep in your soul. Some of you have an undying devotion to this nation. Some of you would die for her. That is a necessity for Israel and on behalf of all of us here, I want to give you my thanks.
The word Judaism is not Hebrew, it is an Anglicized word, sorry to break it to you.
If we examine the Hebrew and its syntax and morphology we see something important. The word Judaism does not mean religion in Hebrew. There is no word in Hebrew for religion.
Let me tie the (at times unspoken) thanks that Israel has for the diaspora to where I am going with this.
Yehudim, the people of Yehuda (the place), the name of said tribe and person, Yehuda- must be examined properly.
In Hebrew, every word magically has a three-letter root. The connection between these shared words is astounding.
The word Yehuda comes from the Hebrew word lehodot, which means to thank. Indeed, upon his birth, Leah, Yehuda’s mother, declared “hapaam odeh et Hashem,” this time I thank G-d. Feelings of gratitude characterized Yehuda’s birth. The commonly used word todah, meaning- thank you, stems from the same root.
Therefore, when I say, “on behalf of all of us here in Israel, I want to give you my thanks,” please understand how profound that truly is.
We, the Yehudim, are a people of thanks.