It's finally over, I will be home tomorrow. I wanted to just wrap up my experience somehow...
It's no secret that I haven't been completely happy here. Every day here I got a little more...jaded, i guess. Everyday life here is nothing like a Birthright trip or family tour. It started out beautiful--I remember walking down the street with Emily, giggling and saying, "WE'RE IN JERUSALEM!" and being so incredibly happy to start this adventure. But then real life set in--unexpected costs, fighting with bureaucracy, classwork, friend drama, homesickness...And it just...got less fun. More like, just school but in a different location. Not special. Yeah, there were moments. I will always miss going to Goldy's with the girls, walking Ben Yehuda on Yom Ha'atzmaut, chilling in my room til the wee hours with em and our friends, movie nights, grey's nights, shabbos dinners in the kfar, going to the old city on a whim, buying fruit and meat and bread at the shuk...so many things. most of all i will miss the friends I met here...Emily of course, and Sarah, Margot and Leah, Sarah N, Tammy and Tessa and Uriel and Hebi, our Israelis Uri and Ofer who picked us up at a bus stop on Yom Ha'atzmaut and have been an integral part of our life since then, and so many others. It hurts, leaving them. I am so ready for home; I'm ready to get away from the drama and the lack of customer service anywhere, the rude people...the lack of good stores...the high prices of food...not having things from home that i want...being 5000 miles from my boyfriend and family and best friends...the utterly disgusting bathroom that smells like mold and is full of bugs...
I was going to make this an organized list, but it is what it is.
I'm glad I came. It was most assuredly a life-changing experience. I have never been away from home so long, I have never lived so independently, I've never been in THIS long of a long-distance relationship...And I have come out on the other side of all the hardship and depression, stronger and wiser. I know myself a lot more than I did before, in a lot of ways...and in just as many, I am more unsure of myself. I have come to many realizations about Judaism and the way I relate to it, and not all of those realizations are good. The hypocrisy here, the orthodox monopoly, the judgement I get automatically if i mention that i date goys (they'd rather I date a completely secular Jew than a completely secular non-Jew; how is that anything but racism?), the belief that this is right and nothing else...I can't stand it. It makes it hard for me to want to be Jewish...not saying i'm not going to be, but so many things about it just aren't working for me. What does work, though, really works. the community is the main thing. I love being part of a community of people, connected to communities all over the world, who have a history that goes back thousands of years. I love studying Jewish culture and philosophy and ethics and history. it's all so rich and interesting and i love it. but i just don't love halakha (law), i don't particularly care for the Oral Torah (a bunch of sages' opinions on what every line of the Torah really means), I feel like a lot (most, actually) of it is taking an inch and turning it into a mile. *sigh* I could rant about this all day. But back to my point.
My point is, I've done a lot of soul-searching in the past four months or so. I'm still inconclusive as to where I want to go with these feelings, but I know that i never want to lose the connectivity i've felt here. I always will celebrate the major holidays, and try to make shabbos a little different than normal days. I will follow the rules of Pesach. I will go to Shul on occasion. I will send my children to Hebrew School and to Israel. But if they decide it's not for them, I won't push it. They will always have choice.
Israel has changed me. I'm still me, but like i said, i'm jaded now in ways I wasn't before.
I've had times i will never ever forget, and times that I wish i COULD forget.
I've experienced love and hate.
I've met so many people that have had an impact on me.
I know so much more than i could have imagined i'd ever know.
I can navigate Jerusalem. by myself. know what bus to take where, and how often it comes.
I can handle myself with pushy vendors. brush 'em off, humor them, and keep my wallet.
I can't wait to go home.