Saturday, July 30, 2011

a bit of Jewish guilt about not yearning EAST

As I prepare for my family's move to Colorado, I periodically think about twenty-year-old me and my plans to live in Israel ...

Hatikva, Israel's national anthemn, goes like this: "As long as deep in the heart, The soul of a Jew yearns, And towards the EastAn eye looks to Zion, Our hope is not lost ..."  The Jewish people's longing for a return to the land of Israel began with exile to Babylon after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E., and has since been suffused in many, many aspects of Jewish spiritual life, culture, prayer, ritual and literature.  Indeed, each year at the end of the Passover seder - the most widely observed Jewish ritual, even among otherwise secular or religiously unaffiliated Jews - we pronounce "Next Year in Jerusalem.

"Maybe I'm thinking about this because it was in Israel that I first discovered my "outdoorsy, mountain-loving" side  - on tiyyulim (trips) as a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  In the Galilee & Golan, in the Judean desert. Hiking, climbing, rappelling.  

Yes, like many of my peers, after that year, I dreamed of aliyah (moving to Israel.)  Sure, that was when I was a) young(er); b) (even more) idealistic; and c) without law school loans, a mortgage, or job.  It was also before I had children, and wanted them to see their grandparents and other close family and friends more than once/year.  Or less.

Apparently, I'm not alone.  In the book New Jews, authors Caryn Aviv and David Shneer assert that the Israel-Diaspora dichotomy no longer exists and that for many contemporary Jews, Israel no longer serves as the Promised Land, the center of the Jewish universe and the place of final destination. Instead, they believe, a new generation of Jews who don’t consider themselves to be eternally wandering, forever outsiders within their communities and seeking to one day find their homeland, are at home, whether it be in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Moscow or Berlin, and are rooted within communities of their own choosing.  
(By the way, Dr. Shneer is director of the Program in Jewish Studies and associate professor of history at the University of Colorado at Boulder.)

Anyway, check out some of the highlights Jewish Colorado has to offer the Becker-Schwartz family:
Eastside Kosher Deli

And for anyone really interested, here's a link to the 2007 Metro Denver/Boulder Jewish Community Study.  

So, its in the good ole USA I'll stay.  For now.  Shabbat Shalom.

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