Coming to Live in Israel

    April 1999            
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Opinion & Society


Boarding Life

By Molly Livingstone

I said good-bye to America again and traveled back to my home here in Israel. This is my third time flying back to Israel and it feels different from all the rest. This time I had a return ticket with a return to a home, a job, and a life. This time I left America with a clear understanding of what I was leaving behind and what I was heading to.

Most of what I say may not make sense, but then again making the decision to live here in Israel is one of the most complicated, incommunicable subjects to describe or for that matter digest. To know America for most of your life and have the freedoms and security, not to mention the customer service, and then to somehow say you want to leave that behind for a country with banks only open until one in the afternoon is something my Dad still can not comprehend.

Sitting in the airport reading my fourth American "gossip" magazine, I quietly wait for the security line to Israel to shorten enough that standing doesn't become my life for the next two hours. I look at those around me standing in the terminal reading their magazines, or swallowing their last piece of American food, maybe even purchasing the chocolate bar that you can't find in Israel, and I wonder are these people like me? I now live in Israel where I don't have the magazines, the American food, and certainly not the chocolate bar; In short, I do not have my American luxuries, or simply my comforts that I grew use to in the States.

So, why I am boarding the plane? I guess the question can only be answered with another question of, why not? I was born with freedom and dreams, which in some crazy twist of fate has led me to Israel to keep reaching for the same dreams, which I prefer to call goals, and freedoms which I hope remain the standard of life.

Along with those aspirations are my necessities, one of which is good food. If no one told you before, let me tell you now, Israel is yummy. Just like the people, the food is a bit different, and you can taste it in the flavor. There are so many different cultures here that somehow the real "peace" is already in the piece of food on your plate. Take a bite of that falafel and you are soaking your taste buds in the whole of the Middle East. Eat a cucumber grown in Israel and you are freeing your mouth of lies of vegetables who may look bigger but certainly don't taste better. And, even though I have to give up the chocolate I grew up on, I have found the incredible variety of chocolates here to not only overwhelm me, but also make me a bit concerned that I don't gain weight from overdosing on them.

I am a little worried for myself at this point in the article. I feel like this honest reflection about life and goals has become more about food and perhaps even a bib for my thoughts. Here I am a young woman on a journey through life, reaching for challenges I dreamt of as a girl, and now all I can do is talk about the food? Actually, yes. If you must know I ate several pickles moments ago, I still have some hummus stuck to my fingers, and I am thinking about the chocolate right now. I think this is what they call epiphany. It is a word I learned somewhere in high school, yet the meaning, like a light bulb, has suddenly stormed into my head.

Why not? Why not eat the best food in the world while trying to understand one of the oldest conflicts too? Why not try a hike in the deserts where the holiest people in the world walked through as a daily part of life? Why not live in Israel where the smell of Jerusalem air is so sweet it calms my caffeine hands to stop pounding the keyboard in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping but ponder these questions instead?

These questions that I ask are not a quiz for you or for me. They are not reasons to hop on the plane and say good-bye to those people in the airport. I think these questions are just the answers I am looking for. Or, maybe they are the excuse to eat just one more piece of that dark chocolate hiding in the back of the fridge.


from the April 1999 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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