In a week, I will be in transit. My flight leaves at 1 AM on Friday morning, so I’ll actually be heading to the airport on Thursday night. Chances are that I’ll write next week’s blessing in either the Paris or Reykjavik airport. Friday will be very, very long, and California’s shabbat will arrive, God willing, about 20 minutes before I land in San Francisco.
At this moment, it’s Saturday evening (because I am, yet again, posting this a day late), and I am listening to the neighborhood mosque broadcast the special prayer that marks the end of the fast on this first day of Ramadan. I’m so used to the typical call to prayer that hearing this new blessing now, months after arriving here and mere days before leaving, is a little shocking. The call to prayer is comforting– something that reminds me of where I am in time. This new prayer is exciting, and I know that in the time I have left it will likely remain exciting rather than settling into normalcy.
This last week was my last normal week. We finished up classes and then took a trip down south on Thursday and Friday (hence my late post). This week the only “normal” event on my schedule is volunteering at the preschool on Tuesday. Other than that it’s going to be all about organizing, celebrating Shavuot, checking items off of my unofficial Israel Year bucket list, eating hummus, and packing up.
This week’s Torah portion is במדבר– Bamidbar– which is the first parsha in the Book of Numbers. Why is it called “Numbers?” Because it starts with a census of the Israelites in the desert. It felt pretty appropriate to come upon this parsha during a week that I’ll be taking a census of my belongings and learnings. It also felt appropriate to find myself, briefly, in the desert. Yesterday morning, I woke up at 5 AM to watch the sun rise over the Dead Sea. It was one of the more spectacular sunrises I’ve seen in my life. The next sunrise I’m awake for will likely be in Paris on Friday when my flight lands at 5 AM.
I’m lucky to have a blessing for this shabbat offered recently by one of the people who knows me best in this world. She wrote:
You’ve dealt with a lot since you’ve been there, far more than you were expecting to have to deal with.
And you’ve done it. It was a roller coast and nevertheless, you persisted.
Going forward, may the wonderful phrase you knit in magic yarn be more than just the epic feminist rallying cry that it already is. May it also be a reminder to you that you persisted. Despite people telling you that you can’t because you’re a woman, despite social and political turmoil back home, despite anxiety and loss, you persisted. If you find yourself in tough times or doubting yourself, may this time serve as a reminder that you are strong and persistent and will not be dissuaded.
I appreciate this as a charge to take with me when I leave Israel behind. I’m pretty damn eager, honestly, to be able to think about and talk about this year in the past tense. I have so much processing ahead of me, but, for now, I’m trying to embrace this experience’s “lasts.” 6 days to go.