יום שלישי, 4 ביוני 2013

Let My People Go

Let My People Go


My whole life I have lived in big cities.  I’m one of those people who knows about three kinds of animals: dogs, cats and pigeons. I used to say I like to see nature while driving by at 100 kph.

Today I’m a little older and possibly a little slower, but I enjoy nature slightly more and I generally do "stop and smell the flowers" mostly because the two little people I live with want to smell, touch, look, enjoy, and ask "ma ze?(what is this) about 500 times in a 30 second span. I appreciate and marvel at their curiosity and therefore enjoy it more.

As you probably know by now, I live in Tel Aviv which in terms of cities is similar to Manhattan. Until now I’ve said that Tel Aviv is Manhattan but more Zionistic.  It pains me greatly to say I no longer believe this to be the case.

Tel Aviv has always been the most modern and diverse of Israeli cities.  That is what makes it wonderful. However, there are two sides to everything and in the last few months I have realized that these things might make my continued residence here untenable. If I was alone, some of these factors would never have even made an appearance on my radar but I am no longer a sole operator and my kids' upbringing and education is of utmost importance to me. 

How do I want to raise my kids? What values do I want to instill in them?  For me, the most important thing is a Jewish education.  For diaspora Jews who care about these things, either a Jewish day school or an afterschool/Sunday school program fulfills these needs. So too, Jewish summer camps.  But here, in Israel, as ironic to those of you residing outside of Herzl’s dream land, this in NOT a given. While I love Tel Aviv for its diversity it is also what bothers me the most about it. Shouldn’t it be a given that living in a Jewish state, which based on the number of non- Jewish moms in my mommy groups is no longer a given either, they would automatically receive this? Sadly, heartbreakingly, no.  While my rather militant view of intermarriage has lessened to a certain degree, shouldn’t this still be predominantly a Jewish state? With Jewish values?  I was in the university yesterday and I saw a sign for a discussion on the place of the Rabbinate in Israel...SERIOUSLY???!!! Where else is there a place for the rabbinate if NOT in Israel?
Haven’t we fought, struggled, died for, been tortured, murdered and discriminated against enough that at least in one place in the world throughout there is room for us and our beliefs?

So it got me thinking. How do I want to raise my kids? In what type of environment do I want them to live? I myself am a study in contradiction. As a single person, I can live with my inner struggles which most of the time were cool, to my former way of thinking, but now I see that it may not have been to my advantage.  I certainly do not dress like an observant person and my family structure is certainly one that would, at the very least, raise eyebrows in certain segments of the community. It is clear to me that a part of our population would view me as not observant because of that. But I don’t want my girls to live on the fence the way I have. I want them to be on a team. It is something that I didn’t have and it isn’t easy to ride the fence. I struggle and I am stuck.

So as much as I love the diversity, freedom and openness I dislike the lack of Zionism and Judaism. It has become just like Manhattan.  On the other hand, I want to be in a homogenous community even less, although  I wonder if that isn’t best for my kids. 

The bottom line is it is up to me to instill the values, the beliefs and the love of Torah, Judaism and Eretz Yisrael so I am staying here, in Tel Aviv, the White City on the Sea. I hope I am doing the right thing.  Just another thing to worry and lose sleep over.