Saturday, June 14, 2008

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

My daughter Liat leaves tomorrow night for America.

I have so many mixed feelings about this.

The adjustment to our new home has been the most difficult for her. She has told me she loves Israel, but that she just wishes her friends had made Aliya with her. (Don't we all wish that?) I don't question how her love for Israel has grown over the past year. I see her interest in what's going on here; she reads the paper and looks at the websites. I listen and try to answer her questions about things like Sderot, or the Merkaz HaRav terrorist attack.

But she's a teenager. And she had a very tight knit group of friends and a life in America that she loved. She has made a couple of friends here, but does not have that social network that she left behind in America. Many Shabatot she stays home and reads or comes with me on visits to my friends. She has also been unhappy in the school she's in, feeling it's not the right environment for her.

I'm nervous that Liat will spend time with her friends in America and really feel like she's missing alot over there and be depressed about coming home.

We can't not send her. A little background: a few days after her bat-mitzvah, Liat was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. After four rounds of chemotherapy and 7 weeks of radiation, the disease went into remission. She also had another, more traumatic medical experience last year, which I don't have the strength to go into right now. Thank G-d, bah, she is healthy today. Because of her experiences, Liat is not your typical teenager. She is more serious and mature than your average 14-year-old. She has so much Emunah (faith) that I sometimes feel ashamed at my lack of it. After her diagnosis, our family got involved with Chai Lifeline, and Liat has spent the last two summers at Camp Simcha. This is an unbelievable organization who helped our family get through some very difficult times.

Liat is going back to Camp Simcha this summer and before camp starts, she will spend some time with family and friends.

I'm worried that maybe it's to soon for her to go back, since she doesn't have an established social circle here and will be depressed upon her return. But we could never deny her the weeks at Camp Simcha--they give her so much chizuk (emotional support).

But there is some hopeful news. She was very unhappy in the Ulpana that we had sent her to. It's a good school, but she wanted a more serious religious environment. So she found out about another school with an excellent reputation, and more religious. After much finagling (In Israel, I've learned "no" means try harder), the administration agreed to interview and test her and last week we were notified that she has been accepted. Liat has told me that she is excited to start in this new school.

At least she's coming back to something she's excited about.

And so, for better or worse, she is going. And I will miss her and worry about her every day. And hope and pray that she comes back okay, and that it will be a good year for her.

And that she doesn't spend all our money shopping...

(In many ways, she really is a typical teenager).


SuperRaizy said...

Wow. Liat sounds like an amazing girl. I think you are absolutely right to let her spend the summer in America. Just like a few weeks at Camp Simcha gives her strength and a sense of renewal, so will the time that she gets to spend with her friends. Illness, aliyah, the wrong school- that's a lot for a kid to have to deal with all at once. It sounds like she needs (and deserves) a break.
Don't worry about her being depressed upon her return. After two months away, she's going to want to see her wonderful Mommy and Daddy again more than anything.

mother in israel said...

Or she might realize that she is not really a part of that chevra anymore--that she has moved on. In a good way.

Jack Steiner said...

It sounds like a lot going on. I wish her a safe flight and a good summer. Sometimes the only way to see that home has changed is to go where you used to live.

Anonymous said...

I think you were right in allowing her to go. She'll be able to assess by herself what has changed in her life from a different angle. In addition, it's good that she has a new school to look forward to when she gets back.
Don't worry too much. From what you have written, she seems to be a terrific teenager with a great power to bounce back.

Leora said...

Good luck, Baila. Sounds like you have a lot on your plate as a mom. Best wishes to your daughter; kids often don't exactly the same choices as their parents. We can only do our best and be there when they need us.

Benji Lovitt said...

Sending your kid to America??? IT'S A WAR ZONE OVER THERE!!!

I hear from people in their 20s and 30s that although it was very hard as a teenager, they look back and are happy their parents made aliyah. Good luck to all of you.

Anonymous said...

don't worry Baila you know we will take good care of Liat. Looking forward to seeing her.

Baila said...


You are absolutely right, she does deserve this.

Although I hear what your saying, I think she would feel sad about that.

Home is really never quite the same once you leave it, right?


We try not to worry to much, but that's tough, isn't it? She is quite the bouncer backer though.


We all have something, don't we? As a family we consider ourselves very blessed.


I know sending her to the USA is risky, but she grew up there--she knows the streets. And yes, I'm hoping that someday she'll thank me for the gift of bringing her here.


Thank you. She is looking forward to seeing my friends almost as much as she is to seeing her own friends, since you guys were such a big part of her life when she was sick.