I am still haunted by the image of my mother, sick with cancer at the time, crying when she found out her father passed away. I was 14, and for months begged my mom to take me to Israel to see my grandparents. She promised we would go in the summer, because winter in Jerusalem is not easy. Unfortunately for all of us, my Saba passed away in February 14th, before we could go. Three years later, when I was living in Israel, her mother became unwell. Her situation was not getting better, so my mom took a flight to Israel. Savta’s situation got even worse, so my mom got on the next available flight a few days before her original one. Her mother passed away while my mom was on the flight to see her one last time, which she never got to do. Again, I saw my mother, the strongest and toughest woman I have ever met, cry after losing her parents.
Now, I’m almost 25 years old. I have spent the past year in this amazing and beautiful country, surrounded by warmth and a true feeling of home. I have seen my mother’s cousins with their parents, children, and grandparents. I have been blessed to be lucky enough to call myself part of an absolutely indescribable feeling, just knowing that I am part of such a remarkable family.
I am leaving Israel, but it’s not the end. I know I’ll be back. I love the life I have lived, and it hurts and saddens me to be away from the family I am proud to be part of.
The concern of quality of life always surfaces when considering a life in Israel vs. one in the states. What is quality of life to you? If quality is comfort, ease of day to day activities, and luxury, the Â the quality is clearly higher, or easier to attain, in the states. But if quality is dynamics between people and strangers who treat each other like family, and depth and meaning in the interactions on a friendly, family, social, and political level, then for me Israel has a much higher quality of life. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to be in two places at once.
But this presents me with a dilemma: do I raise children in Israel, in the place I love so much, the place where they can play freely in streets and neighborhoods, the place where family is a priority? Maybe, but then I am depriving my parents, myself, and my children from that closeness and warmth I so desire, that is impossible to enjoy when grandparents live 10,000 miles away from their grandchildren. Do I give them the gift I never had, of being close to their grandparents? If so, I won’t be raising them in Israel as I have always dreamed of doing. The truth is, it’s too early to worry about, because not only do I not have children, I don’t have a husband (or even a boyfriend) so these discussions and questions are not yet relevant. Regardless, they are in my mind and heart, and I wanted to share them with you.
I am completely overwhelmed and drowned with emotions. If I allow my thoughts to wonder for too long about how much I’ll miss Israel, I start to feel the tears. It’s bittersweet for me, especially because I’m thrilled about starting my career with a professor I admire, who’s research and experiments fascinate me. Life twists and turns in unpredictable ways, and wherever I go, Israel will be with me.
Take care and be well.