FORGETTING HOW TO BE AMERICAN

Who the hell forgets how to be American in only four months? I’ve been American my entire life and four months in Israel shouldn’t impact a damn thing, right?

american flag

I discarded my U.S. SIM card at some point in Israel and thus my phone was useless when arrived in America.

I approached my front door and saw the mezuzah smiling at me. It is the only one in the building where I live.

I walked into my palace and was greeted by my precious pug, Fig. She barked at me because she thought I was a stranger, but then she smelled me and began to dance.

I walked slowly down the long hallway, which leads to the great-room. I looked at all the artwork wondering where the hell it would fit in my new tiny home in Jerusalem.

I arrived home on Pesach with no Seder invitation. Not one, even though I inquired several times about it before leaving Israel. Alone on Seder… how interesting.

I opened four months of mail and discovered the Karaite Jews of America had sent me a Haggadah. I smiled and thought- this is perfect. I will read it tonight in bed.

There will be no sound ushering in Shabbat this evening, like in Jlem. I will just know.

My husband asked what I had in mind for dinner. He said he went to the store and would I like flank steak, New York strip or salmon?

And then it hit me.

It’s not kosher.

It was bothersome, but I kept it to myself. One cannot control this matter outside of Jerusalem with ease. I had not considered what would be awaiting me in my refrigerator when I returned home. Home. Wtf, anyway…?

I told my spouse keeping kosher in Jerusalem is much easier. His response: “So now you are going to be vegetarian I take it?” My response: “No, I just won’t be eating non-kosher meat. From now I will be vegetarian until I can make a trip to Blue Ash.” (Our kosher market is 20 miles from where I live.) Prior to Israel I kept kosher about 75% of the time.

I opened more mail and read a brochure from our JCC about an Israeli festival they will hold in June. They always have fabulous events. I opened to a page about “What does Zionism mean today?” I read the names of the speakers and my rabbi is one of them.

I smirked to myself- Bah.

I was tired and wanted a bath. When I was finished I realized I had forgotten how to drain the Jacuzzi. Who forgets such a thing in only four months? I was embarrassed to ask my husband how to do it.

I was overwhelmed by the bathroom anyway, it was bigger than my entire studio in Jlem.

I am afraid to be here. I am afraid I will become an assimilated Jew just like everyone else here if I stay for too long.

I ate hummus and a red bell pepper for dinner with a hard cider. No Seder.

I walked into my closet and wondered where the hell I was going to put all these damn clothes when I return to Israel. What do I do with my 50 pairs of shoes?

The piano was in the corner of the mezzanine staring at me. I stared right back. I wanted to touch her, so I did. I played a harmonic minor scale and then walked away.

I was too tired to play her.

I can hear Fig snoring now as I write this. It is raining outside and I can barely keep my eyes open. I miss Israel. I wish she was here. There is a Hamsa made of Jerusalem stone on the wall in my loft. I put my hand against it and smelled it, hoping it would smell like Jerusalem. It didn’t.

There is a huge strand of garnets with sterling silver pomegranates on the ends that hang on a wall. I kissed them.

Amongst the mail were several sets of Shabbat candles in tiny boxes that the Chabadniks leave in my cubby hole via the entry foyer of my building. They accumulated over four months. They never quit coming to drop them off. They distribute the candles anywhere there is a Jew.

Hold on, it’s time.

Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-di-sha-nu bi-mitz-vo-tav vi-tzi-va-noo li-had-leek ner shel Sha-bat

So I am free, right? Free from the bondage of slavery, right? Suddenly I feel rather trapped here. All of this space, this glorious beautiful and perfect space- it makes me feel trapped. How is it that I felt free in my tiny little home in Jlem?

The moment I stepped into our black SUV, I felt trapped. The drive home from the airport did not make me feel free.

My spouse asked me if I was happy or sad to be home. I had tears in my eyes and said: “I do not know how to explain this to you.”

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About jewess

I am a Judaic Studies academic who loves all facets of Jewry. I am at my core and artistic being, as I am a classically trained pianist and composer. I love aesthetics and my dog. I am a misanthrope, but try to be kind to everyone.
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One Response to FORGETTING HOW TO BE AMERICAN

  1. Thanks, I was starting to think nobody else would understand.

    Like

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