Tuesday, April 28, 2009

61 things

Last year, in honor of my country's 60th birthday, I posted 60 things I love about Israel. This year, I thought about cheating by repeating the post and just adding a 61st thing, but decided against it. I know you've come to expect quality posts here and I didn't want to rip you guys off.

Tonight, Israel passed from mourning our dead to celebrating our freedom. Just like that. One hour it's all sad songs and interviews with relatives of the fallen on the radio and the next it's festive music and parties everywhere. It's hard to understand, but I always point out that over here we are used to (well, I'm getting used to) mourning and joy being intertwined into the fabric of our daily lives. It's just the way it is; we can't have one without the other.

Before we arrived, people both here and in the states warned us that Israel is a tough place to live. We came anyway, thinking we knew that, but the truth is, it's one thing to talk about "tough", and it's another to live in "tough". Things are tough here for varied reasons. Of course, there is always the threat of our surrounding enemies--the situation in this country is so volatile, you really never know when it will implode, despite the recent relative calm. Financially, more people seem to find it more difficult to make ends meet here. And finally, I think things are hard just because I'm so used to things being done differently. That's not to say it's better where I came from (some things are, some aren't), but it's just different. From mastering the language to figuring out the banking system--these are things that came naturally to me in the states. It's being a "greenhorn", if anyone remembers that expression. And sometimes I think I'm to old for that stuff.

And then there are other days. Days when I travel the land and feel my roots. Days when I see the words "Shabbat Shalom" displayed on an electronic street sign. Days when I hear my neighbor's toddler prattle on in Hebrew. Days when a war is fought and a nation, my nation, comes together.

There are three days a year when Israelis sing the national anthem, Hatikva, The Hope. The first two are on Yom HaShoah VeHaGvurah, Holocaust Day and Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day. The third one is sang at the end of Yom HaZikaron, on the eve of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Independence Day. Tonight, at our celebration here in Modi'in, thousands of residents sang in unison and it sounded like an anthem of hope, and of joy. As I sang, I felt that joy bubble within me. I watched my daughters sing it, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to them. I stood next to Isaac and new friends who are beginning to feel like old ones, and I knew within my soul why I am here, in spite of all the hardships.

I'm here because it's where I belong.

And that my friends, is the 61st thing.

Happy birthday, with love.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy for you that you get to celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut as an Israeli. Hugs to you and our beautiful homeland.

ck

Mrs. S. said...

Beautiful post and יום העצמאות שמח!
Enjoy your mangal...

Leora said...

Two days in a row of posting, Baila... you are either on a roll or very moved by your surroundings and your country.

Having been in Modi'in, I am trying to imagine everyone there coming out to a park in the center and singing together. Sounds beautiful.

Anonymous said...

we are with u in spirit.

nw

muse said...

You're included in Israel At 61!.

Anonymous said...

I've been living in Israel for 27 yrs now...reading your blog still brings tears to my eyes - thank you!