Why Did You Move to Israel, Anyhow?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Masada. The Jews living there chose to die rather than be captured by the very determined Romans.

One of the most interesting things about being in Israel, is talking to folks about why they’ve moved here and how they feel about what they’ve left behind.  Most of the people I talked to are, of course, English speaking and most come from USA, Canada, and England.  What they call here, the Anglo-Israelis.  In general they’re very much like the folks in the Upper West Side of New York City.  And many have had very successful careers and lives altogether in the West.

But each person I spoke felt something when they came to Israel.  Simply put, they felt like they were finally home.  And many were very surprised because they hadn’t even consciously known that they had been away.

Ever since the Jews were driven out of Israel by the Romans, their history is full of difficult chapters of trying to ‘fit in’.  They played a major role in the culture of Spain, living in peace and harmony with the Catholics and Moslems for centuries, only to face the horrors of the Inquisition.  Hundreds of little villages (schtetles)  of the Ukraine and Poland were raided again and again by marauding gangs.  Like gypsies and other minorities they were often not allowed full citizenship, sometimes not even allowed to own property.  And of course we need no reminder about what became of their lives in Germany.

Jerusalem statue and tourist enjoy a dance.

While many of the folks I’ve spoken to wish that they didn’t have to live with a tribal mentality, they have acceded to it.  And they’ve done so with great joy.  There is a sense of celebration here.  The Israeli population has immigrated with wonderful music and dance from North Africa, Eastern Europe and Spain.  And, of course, the music that we all grew up with in the West.

There is a sense of fully accepting the responsibilities and joys of being a Jew.  That, of course, leads into a conversation about social, political and military strategies of maintaining this homeland.  This is what I call… ‘The conversation’.  It’s everywhere and full of pathos…and pain.  I’ll write about that in a future blog.

For now… it’s music under the moonlight.

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