Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Galus Guilt

Rafi G. has posted a video over at Life in Israel that shows a recent Kassam attack in Sderot that injured a frightened little boy. The video is graphic and heartbreaking and Rafi warns that it will make you cry. He's right.

Watching the video brought up an issue that troubles me from time to time. I'm an American girl, Brooklyn born and bred, taught from infancy that Israel is our home. When I was 27 years old, I made it my home. I moved to Israel with my husband, my three year old son, and my three month old daughter. It was all very official- I declared myself an olah chadasha, got passports and ID cards for myself and the kids (hubby was already a citizen), bought a nice apartment in a crappy neighborhood, and settled in for the long haul. It wasn't easy. I missed my family and friends back home, and they missed us. I improved my Hebrew, got a job, made a few new friends, and tried desperately to blend in. I gave birth to my youngest daughter in a hospital in Bnei Brak. I took her to Tipat Chalav numerous times without ever once smacking those condescending, obnoxious Tipat Chalav nurses. I tried, I really did. I tried so hard.
When my marriage ended, I knew that my time in Israel was up. Being a stranger in a strange land was hard enough. Doing so as a single mother of three babies was out of the question. I packed up my kids and brought them back to Brooklyn, where I had tons of family and friends standing by, ready to help me.
Enter the guilt. I was always taught that Israel is our home, it's where we belong. And I believe that. I teach it to my children as well. But I' m not actually there, and neither are my children. It would just be too hard.
Then I see pictures of the people in Sderot and I think how enormously brave they are, living as they do, under daily bombardment. Now that's got to be hard. And a few have left, but so many stay, because they're not willing to give up.
So. I really hope to return to Israel one day, when my children have grown and I'm no longer obligated to put their needs first. In the meantime, I feel a vague sense of guilt every time I see or read about Israelis who put their country's needs before their own. Am I the only Diaspora chick to feel this way? I doubt it. But it still makes me uneasy.


Rafi G said...

bought a nice apartment in a crappy neighborhood,
I took her to Tipat Chalav numerous times without ever once smacking those condescending, obnoxious Tipat Chalav nurses

I love it..

Jack said...

The guilt is there for many of us.

Bas~Melech said...

Well, kol hakavod to you for not smacking those nurses. No wonder they call you SuperRaizy. ;-)

I feel a bond, a pain, a longing, but not so much guilt. I know that I'm in the right place for me at this time and if I could, I'd be where I -- we -- realy belong. I am in awe of those who are there now, though. Total awe at how strong they are.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

It's funny. Maybe because I was never infused with a particular love for Israel, growing up as I did in very "yeshivish" yeshivas in Brooklyn-- I never aspired to live there. Oh, I've been to Israel, and I loved it. I love the country, love that it's ours, love it when we kick Arab ass. I just don't feel a particular desire to love there. Lots of reasons-- I'm culturally an American, and very comfortable with it, also I'm divorced and couldn't leave my kid here, even though my ex claims she'd move there in a 'heartbeat' (I'm sure it wouldn't be so simple). Also it would be hard for me professionally. What can I say? I don't think it makes me a bad Jew, or a bad Zionist. I'd visit regularly if I could. I just don't feel like living there.

It does cause some difficulties dating, too- meet someone who you like, get along with, etc, but they desperately want to make Aliyah.

Nice blog, BTW.

Baila said...


I could write pages and pages on this topic.

We will celebrate our six month aliyah anniversary in a few days. We came because of that yearning and longing, and yes some guilt. We know we belong here, and are happy we came. It is incredibly hard, but every day I hope and pray that with the passing of time we will all become comfortable here.

You (and Jack) shouldn't feel guilty. Life brings us so many challenges, and we do the best we can. But do continue to yearn and ache for Israel, and to teach your children to do so. Jews have done this forever; eventually we will all be here.

As we always say, במהרה וימינו--speedily in our days!

nmf #7 said...

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