Friday, February 1, 2008

The Old Ways: The Long Way Home

כה אמר יהוה עמדו על-דרכים וראו ושאלו לנתיבות עולם, אי-זה דרך הטוב ולכו-בה, ומצאו מרגוע, לנפשכם

"Thus says Hashem (The LORD), stand on the highways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk upon it and you shall find rest for your souls. "
(Jerimiah 6:16)

The Question

Not long ago one of the readers of my blog asked me to write about why I moved to Israel. Though I have dealt with it in passing on different parts of my blog. I think my recent posting about the past speaks to the situation the best.

Ben-Yehudah in Jerusalem

When I consider my life I often think in the context of the past. Because of how I grew up I have had a long admiration for the past. Whether it be the study of history, the changes in human psychology, or the expression of faith, I have found myself defining my existence in context of the past. This often flies in the face of the need of many to throw away the ways of old. In my mind, people can do as they wish, as we all have free-will, yet for me I chose to define myself based on what came before me. After this personal analysis I then base my current existence on my own life experiences. It is from there that I make my way towards whatever future lays ahead of me.

Ehav in Jerusalem: In Front of the Mount of Olives

My life here is Israel is what I needed in order to be that man rooted in the past, while living with a present day reality. When I lived in the US I was often afraid to express myself in terms of the past. I had to dress a certain way in order to be considered normal. I had to live my life in a certain way for people not to talk about me, or make fun of me.

When I was young some people made fun of me whenever I tried to express the past. Yet, now I can at least live with all the past tense elements here and now. For example, it is an interesting concept to read the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) about a place or an event from thousands of years ago and within a few hours be able to travel to said place. What amazes me about my life in this context is that I am not the only person here who lives in this cultural duality. Being in the Middle East means that we are surrounded by the lives and even the conflicts that have unique histories of their own that trace back hundreds and even thousands of years.


The Response

Several years prior to my move to Israel in 2007, I dreamed of moving to here. Literally, I began having dreams that I would be living in Israel at a pivotal point in history. I started recording all of these dreams since they were powerful, vivid, in color, and with much significance to ancient and modern history.

Ehav and Avivit: Petach Tikvah

Much of this desire began in my youth when my grandmother would sing songs about Jerusalem. Before she passed away I told her of my plans on coming to Israel, and she whispered to me, "I wish I could have done that." It was my grandmother that kept me connected to my family's history. She, more than anyone else, gave me a deep appreciation for history and the past, as well as how faith is an essential part of living in a past tense in a present sense. It was my grandmother who would tell me the stories of the generations who came before me, and it was her example that gave me a reason to search out my path in life.


So in 2004 I began to consider the possibility of moving to Israel. During that time I had no idea how I would get here, or what I would do when I moved. All kind of questions crossed my mind such as:
  1. When should I move?
  2. Why am I looking at moving?
  3. How would I support myself?
  4. Do I have what it takes to make in one of the tension centers of the planet?
It took a few years before I could really look seriously at moving to Israel as a reality, both as a spiritual and intellectual development. One of the things I had hoped to do before I moved here was to save up about $30,000 so I could have enough to live here a year without working, and maybe a year later find a job. At that time my plan was to wait until about 2010 to move to Israel. Yet, even with this questions arose of what would I do for a living? Where would I live? I did at least know that I would need to live in a neighborhood with a Yemenite Jewish community. Yet, there were still so many unknowns.

Ehav and Michal: Nachshonim 2006

In 2004 when I was visiting a friend in Jerusalem, I met a bookstore owner in the old city. I told him that I was thinking of making Aliyah (moving to Israel). He said to me, No, don't think, do! I responded, no I am thinking....... He retorted, don't think do! If you are supposed to be here....be here!

One Friday night in 2006 after prayers at the synagogue I was walking to dinner with a friend. I talked to him about my plans for moving to Israel, but my uncertainty about the ability to make a financial living weighed very heavy in the conversation. He said to me words that I will never forget. You don't move to Israel for the money you move for the principle.

Ehav and Niryah: Nachshonim 2006

I have been here for about 5 months and I see the value in his words. I have a nice apartment, a good job, a good community, and financial stability. Yet, it is not these things that make this my home, or that make me happy. It is interesting that in all the times I lived in America and traveled the world I never felt comfortable. Whether it was in the good times or the bad times I never felt like I was where I belonged. The problems of said places were never my own. The victories of said places were never my own. Many of the people of said places were never my own. I also never felt like I was really alive.

Ehav and Dorit: Lod 2007

The only time I felt really alive, and like I was really able to be myself was when I was in Israel. This and the faith I mentioned earlier has been what carries me through the good times and the tough times. God willing I am here for the long haul. Through the joys, the pain, the conflicts, the misunderstandings, the disagreements, the tail gaiters on the highways, the prayers in the synagogue, the secure moments, the insecure moments, the moments of strength, the moments of weaknes, and eventually the victories.


What made the decision clear was when I talked my uncle Eljulius Ever, my father's oldest brother. I told him about my desire to move to Israel. He told me that he always wanted to come to Israel, at least just to see it. He then said to me, Chase after your dreams and go there. You don't want to become old and look back and say, I wish I had taken the chance and done that. Follow your heart.

His words gave me a lot of strength at that time, but I still kept my decision to want to move a secret to my mother. I at first didn't know how to tell her about my hopes and dreams to move ot Israel, after all I was her only child. I began to lay hints down that I was looking at maybe working in Israel for a few years, then I began laying hints that it may be more permanent. On my 32nd birthday, when it became clear that I was going to move to Israel, my mother sent me a letter that I still keep. In the letter she said that when I was born she knew then that I really did not belong to her, and that at some point God would take over. She said then that she prayed that she could accept whatever God had in store for me. Her words were very moving and I knew then that I had a path that was true.

The Conclusion

Living as a man of the past, in a present tense makes more sense for me here. As I said before it is an amazing feeling to be able to read the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) about a place or an event and then be able to travel there within about 3 or 4 hours. It is also amazing to be an active part of history, and not simply a footnote in the pages of time. I feel more comfortable being an Israeli than I did being an American Jew. Maybe because being an Israeli means that I can live more easily with the plurality of who my heritage and my identity past, present, and future.

5 comments:

Invisible Woman said...

Nice story...you must have a wonderful mother.

Lisa said...

Where's the video??? I think it's wonderful that you listened to your uncle. I have always wanted to move away - and just "do me", but 'life' got in the way. . . maybe one day. . .

Ehav Ever said...

IW -Hey IW. Thanks. Yes, my mother is a wonderful lady. She is truly an Eshet Hhayil (A Woman of Valor)

Lisa -Sorry Lisa. I didn't get a chance to edit this post very well before I published it. I took the video out because it fits better in a future post. I made some edits to the post that make the English more clear. Yeah, I am glad I listened to my uncle. He was definitely right about it. As long as you are still breathing there is always time.

makeda42 said...

I agree--it's a wonderful post. The discussion with your mother reminds me of my discussion with my mother when I decided to convert. Her support surprised. me.

I have to check out your blog for your experience in making aliyah. I don't recall if I've read if you knew modern Hebrew before you went. It certainly must have been easier to learn immersed in Israeli society.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey Makeda42 - Thanks for the comment. Mothers are something else. Just when you expect them to be against you, they show you love.

Yes, I could speak Hebrew before I made Aliyah. There are a few posts where I talk about some of my experiences here. If you click on the Israel link it should take you to them. I did a few of them in July and August after I first made Aliyah.