Yom shi'shi, 11 Tishrei 5769.
Today is our One Year Anniversary in Israel. It is also the day after Yom Kippur.
What do I miss from the Old Country?
I miss my rabbi's voice during the services. I miss his special niggunim.
I miss my friends. How can you not miss people you have grown to love over sixteen years?
I miss knowing that someone would go in to The Dearly Beloved during Yizkor and touch him on the shoulder, bringing him back gently from the dark abyss of missing people he loved.
I miss the ease of communicating deep thoughts in English, something I'll be working at for a long time in Hebrew.
What do I love about my Ancient/New Homeland?
I love that the beit knesset is full of teenagers. Most of them stay for most of the davening. I don't know why. But I am glad. Even my teenagers stay.
I love the new niggunim (which include a potpourri of Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Chassidic melodies), and that most of the kehilla sings. There is a lot of singing. I love that I can sort out the words of the liturgy, because it is in modern Hebrew pronunciation, which I have always deciphered more clearly than Ashkenazic.
I like this new rabbi. He can't replace our rav in Baltimore. You can't replace people. But he will be great at being our Israel rav.
I love the smiles and greetings from new friends. They are genuinely happy that we are here. Not just us -- they are very happy to have olim make the effort to come. They are very supportive.
I love the touch of gratitude from a new friend, whose shoulder I touched during Yizkor, when it was clear that she was having a hard time digging out of the abyss of missing people she had loved.
The long and the short of it is that change is hard. And change is good. As hard as it is to be ahead of the Baltimore friends (-- and I truly believe we are only ahead of them in making aliyah --), I am so grateful to be a tiny part of repopulating our precious Land, perhaps moments before the Geula. Ezra and Nechemia, I am very sorry we didn't listen to you when you first invited us. But we are here now. And our first year has been wonderful!