I still remember, so clearly, the moment that I first thought up this blog. I was in my parents’ apartment, thinking of packing in the weeks ahead, trying to brainstorm anything to get myself excited about the year to come. At the time, I largely dreaded coming here. I was afraid. I was leaving so much behind. Oh sure, I’d learn some Hebrew and explore some new spots, but would I have a community? Would I come to feel at home? Would I learn enough to make it worth being away for so long?
The year isn’t over yet, and I don’t think I’ll really have clear answers to all of these questions until I’ve had some time in the States to process the whole experience. What I know right now, though, is that the States aren’t that far away anymore. I started this year counting 40 weeks. (As it turns out, it’ll be 40-less-1, but I didn’t know that at the time. No false advertising intended.) From 40 (ok, ok, 39) weeks I’ve come down to 40 days. In 40 days at this time, I’ll be on a plane from Paris to Reykjavik, somewhere in the middle of my middle leg of what will be a 27 hour journey from Tel Aviv to San Francisco.
I can’t help but think about the 40-days-in mark. It was October 15– the day before the start of sukkot. Everything still felt so new then. I had had only a few weeks of classes at the Conservative Yeshiva, the rabbinical student consortium had yet to begin, I was months away from any of this years’ visitors arriving in Jerusalem, and the now oh-so-grownup kittens looked like this:
Now, my Conservative Yeshiva semester is long over and my BINA semester will end in 5 weeks, the rabbinical student consortium has only 4 more sessions, all of my wonderful visitors have come and gone, and instead of seeing my kittens every day at school, I see these chickens:
And how much has happened in the days between the first 40 and these last. Wonderful things like forming the friendships that have sustained me here. Terrible things like the loss of my Grandfather. Opportunities for learning– a few in the classroom, certainly, but many beyond it. Room for experimentation with my own religious practices. Travel within Israel. Travel to Europe not once but three times. Visits from my family and other dear ones. A move from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Many visits to the beach.
My time here is definitely not done. I have over a month of class left. I’m hardly in the “get packed up and ready to go” stage. And, it’s a relief to have gotten this far. There have been a few moments over the course of my time here when I’ve wondered if I would still be in Israel in June. Times when I was so homesick or so worried about my health or so tired of Israel’s difficulties (the few that I experience as a woman of Ashkenazi descent, that is) that I didn’t know if I would manage to complete my studies here. I thought I might decide I had to go home early.
Life happens, and it’s not impossible that something could cause me to leave between now and June, but I feel confident in my own commitment. I have lasted this long. I can last another 40 days.
(On another note, here are some pictures from the last few weeks.)