Still, I Am Grateful
By Rivkah Lambert Adler
Many of us, when we first come to Israel, fall in love hard. We're like newlyweds who are still in the purest stage of love. Our heads are in the clouds and we just cannot believe we actually live in Israel. We notice everything. And everything is just so wonderful here!
Then, after a time, we get knocked around a little. We get cheated. Or stuck in a bad rental apartment. Or money starts to run out. Or we can't get something as simple as X or Y or Z done in this crazy county. Or we miss our loved ones. Or we actually calculate what a bowl of onion soup in an average restaurant in Israel costs in dollars. Or we still can't communicate well enough in Hebrew. Or we realize that we have chosen to live in a very, very complicated country in a very, very stressed-out region of the world. Or. Or. Or.
Today, DH and I were driving into Jerusalem and, without warning, I was smitten all over again. We're somewhere between our third and fourth aliyahversary. It's just an ordinary Thursday. And yet. And yet. I was overwhelmed with thoughts of how many things here are so precious to me. I asked DH if he also sometimes feels this way. And in under five minutes, we came up with a list of things we love, so much, about this country.
My computer sits on a desk right near a window that faces the street. Some evenings, as I work, I hear a man pacing in front of the shul across the street shouting, "Ma'ariv! Ma'ariv!" (evening prayers).
When we drive into town to meet friends or run some errands, the sign that says "Bruchim HaBaim. Welcome to Jerusalem." still gives me chills.
On the way to do our grocery shopping, we drive past dozens of empty, densely-packed sand dunes. On my way to buy bread and cucumbers, I easily imagine Avraham and Sarah walking across these same hills.
On Shabbat mornings, around 10 AM, there is a Bedouin shepherd, a young teenage boy, who brings his flock near the edge of my community. He sits on a rock while his sheep graze in the grass and stubble that lies outside our fence. And I watch them as I pray.
The radio announcer tells people what parsha we will read in shul this Shabbat. And very early in the mornings, at the beginning of the broadcast day, he says Shema.
Directly across the street from my apartment, there are two shuls and a paper/bottle/old clothes recycling station. And on Fridays, there is a flower seller there. And Erev Sukkot, someone sells lulavim at the same spot.
The streets one neighborhood away are named for Biblical instruments. In another neighborhood in another town, the streets are named for stones on the Choshen Mishpat. Our streets and our cities are named for Jewish ideas, Jewish personalities, Jewish history.
Every time I travel on one of the 66 buses a day that link my home to Jerusalem, I feel very acutely that I am part of the miracle of the Ingathering of the Exiles. I didn't just move to a new place. I am part of the fulfillment of an ancient Biblical prophecy.
Relatively often, I'll meet someone who doesn't yet live in Israel, or who is in process, but who isn't yet a Jew. I'll understand their longing. I don't know by what merit I was born a Jew. Or by what merit G-d picked me to come live in His Holy Land. But I am just so grateful.
Because, despite it all, I so love my life here.