Why I WILL move to Israel
I stumbled upon this article and got kind of sad inside. Not only because I didn’t really understand the author’s point of view (for starters, he’s a Lubavitcher and I’m as secular as can be), but because I felt he didn’t give Israel enough credit – that his views were a reflection of him and not a reflection of Israel itself. I voiced my views on the comments section and a few of my friends suggested I turn them into an article.
He starts off by detailing a pretty horrible situation with a Jerusalem landlord, and proceeds to describe a parallel (but in my opinion, far worse) situation with a Brooklyn landlord. He himself proves that the landlord situation was a red herring, as there are bad landlords everywhere.
He then takes his article in a completely different direction, mentioning casually that he figured out, not without consultation with his Rebbe, that New York had better economic and creative prospects for him. Cool. To each their own. Now why write an article about it?
Granted, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a similar article. This article was written about Singapore, with much fairer criticisms of the place (I should know, I lived there almost 2 years in total). But, to balance the article about Israel out, I figured I should write my own about why I want to live in Israel.
Even before I visited Israel, I always felt a deep connection to the place. As someone who overcame a lot, who beat the odds throughout my life to get to where I am today, Israel’s story reminded me of my own, and gave me a sense of comfort and kinship.
I was born with a disease that left me blind in my right eye and severely visually impaired in my left. I had several surgeries to try to correct it. This was the War of Independence and the battles against the Arab armies that threatened annihilate Israel. My struggle through childhood to adapt to my disability and overcome endless bullies mirrored young Israel’s struggle to develop and find her place in the world. My suicide attempt scarcely a week after I turned 15 was the war of 1967, which I not only bounced back from, but became an even better, more resilient person, conquering uncharted territory. The near-fatal accident I got into at the age of 23 was the Yom Kippur War, catching me entirely by surprise and forcing me to put my lifelong dream of becoming a physician on hold indefinitely. But like Israel, I stood strong, I fought for my recovery and flourished in the desert, which was a world that was always trying to change me, that didn’t quite like me as I was.
My experiences have hardened me on the outside, but on the inside I am soft. Because of my hardened exterior, I’m used to people misunderstanding me and assuming the worst of my intentions. Those who know me well enough know that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’ve stopped caring about what other people think about me because I know that I’m already different, I might as well embrace it, else I would never be able to enjoy life. I’m loud, outspoken, and many polite Canadians think I “take up too much space,” but I’m also extremely kind, generous, helpful, and hospitable. I am someone who is willing to make sacrifices to help friends and others whom I think deserve my aid. I love to entertain, cook for friends, and throw excellent parties, which don’t really feel like work to me. I’m an excellent cook who can whip up any recipe from any part of the world with my own unique twist. I’m a good talker but also a good listener, willing to sit up with friends all hours of the night as they tell me their hopes, fears, problems, grievances, and goals.
I have chutzpah. I’m the one who is not afraid to assert myself when someone is being rude or unfair to me or someone I care about. If I feel I’m being cheated, I’m not afraid to call someone out on it. When my parents told me to stop with Hasbara, dangling my university education in front of me as they pleaded, “let someone else’s kid die for standing up for what they believe in!” I continued steadfastly under a pseudonym because I am willing to put myself at risk to defend what I believe is right. I’ve never been one to have fear – or much expectations.
I never imagined myself as somebody who would end up rich, and don’t need very much to make me happy, as the simpler things in life are what I live for. I’m whimsical and creative, energized my new ideas and love surrounding myself with optimistic people who feel that if they can dream it, they can do it. I thrive in intellectual atmospheres with lively, probing discourse and debate, where the human mind is taken to the next level and new ideas and viewpoints are encouraged. I want to be among those who lift me up, not drag me down, and where the air is thick with new inventions, ideas, concepts, and theories.
It is no small wonder that I felt immediately at home in Israel, the second most educated country in the world besides my birthplace, Canada. Where people appreciate me the way I am and aren’t trying to change me into someone more polite, subdued, and “considerate.” Israel energizes me, lifts me up, and the very essence of the place injects me with constant creative inspiration, which is optimally fertile, nurturing soil for a whimsical, multidimensional artist and scientist such as myself.
The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. The character in the buildings, the serenity of the beaches, the old interspersed with the new, the warmhearted people, the fruits of Herzl’s dream coming to life, one hundred and eleven years after his death made my soul come alive in a way that even now, 3 weeks after my return, I cannot shake. The warm, accepting vibe, the feelings of brotherhood, the sense of belonging and not being a minority in a foreign land, the chasadim tovim (good deeds), the generosity of time and spirit, fuel me to be a better person and hold myself to a higher standard. I am a better human being because I’ve experienced Israel, and out of the 40 countries I have visited in my hitherto short life, I feel I am best off living in a place that makes me the best version of myself. That place is Israel, hands down.
It is therefore not a matter of if I will move to Israel, it is a matter of when.
It could be in a year, as I contemplate applying to Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv to give my dream of becoming a doctor a second chance, inspired by an Israeli friend of mine, a disabled IDF veteran who insists he would want me to be his doctor and that I have what it takes. It could be when I feel that I have done what needs to be done where I was born and raised and feel ready to spread my wings and bring my talent and experience to Israel. Or it could be in 40 years when I am ready to retire to a warmer climate, surrounded by children and grandchildren who have already made aliyah with the love for Israel and Zionist spirit instilled in them by me and my future spouse.
All I know is that my soul found its happy place, my jigsaw piece found its puzzle frame, and I was home in a way I never felt possible.
Israel is not for everyone. It takes a certain kind of personality to move to Israel. Israel is certainly not for the faint of heart, so to make your way in that society, you have to be tough and assertive, not afraid to push through a crowd to get what you need. It truly is a survival of the fittest. However, if you pull through, you get to live your life with that incredible feeling that you are living among family.
When people criticize Israel, I feel as if they are criticizing me. Israel has become a part of my soul that I can no longer detach. I feel its call, and know in the deepest part of my heart that one day, I will be home.