It is almost a year since I left Israel. I know that a lot has changed -babies were born, new jobs were found, jobs were lost, new relationships, breakups, moving apartments, finding new friends, new people in the social group…
In my mind’s eye I can see the streets of Jerusalem. I can see the street that I lived on and how to walk to my friend’s houses. I can see my friends, and feel the joy of bumping into them in the street, the mall, the restaurants, the shuk, the bus, shul….I can see the sunlight on the Jerusalem stone. I can see the people on the bus, in streets, the shopkeepers, the kids walking to school. I can feel the heat of the sun. Smell the juniper and the stone and the sand and the oven cleaner that fills the air right before pesach. I can see the giant vats of water with the Yeshiva boys waiting patiently to help people kasher their homes.
I know my life has changed. When I left I was dating someone. I was a chaplain in a hospital. I moved to Australia and was a rabbi. I moved to New York. I have been lonely and sad and figuring out what is next while here. I have a job for next year in New York.
I know I am no longer who I was 11 months ago. I know that they are no longer who they were then either. My heart longs to be in Israel, to be in Jerusalem, to be among my friends…but I also know that what is in my heart might not (is most likely not) the reality.
I know that it will be hard to fit in again. That I am going to be a tourist, a visitor, someone just passing through. My three weeks will be trying to fit in as many people as I can. Catching up, hearing what people are up to, what has changed, what is the same, what is going on in the city and community that I chose to be my home. And I know that I will have to tell people over and over again how CPE was almost a year ago, how Australia was, if I am excited about finishing school in only a few months, and answer the dreaded question of what will I be doing next…and have to answer it looks like I will be in New York for maybe one more year. And have to be there in the moment of how they are excited for me, and how great an opportunity this is, and yes of course I need to do what is right for me professionally, and yes they miss me.
But I know with time they will miss me less, my presence will not mean much…I know that I will miss them less too. I know that yes, I do need to do something for myself professionally. That I need to feel real meaning in the world, even if it might hurt…these are the things I need to give up on in life- we are not meant to get everything. And I know how great an opportunity I am being given. And how lucky I am to have friends that are so supportive of me, even from a distance, even when we haven’t seen each other in almost a year.
In less than 24 hours I will board a plane to go back for the first time. I am simultaneously excited to see everyone and to be where I have been dreaming of for the past 11 months, and at the same time terrified. Terrified of how to be a guest in my home. Terrified of seeing everyone. Terrified of failing people. Terrified of all of my friendships and relationships being in my head, and maybe I really am just alone. Terrified of having to say goodbye…again…and not knowing when the next time will be…