I can tell that some friends and relatives think my decision to move my family to Israel for a year is, well, questionable. “So you’re really going to do this?” one friend asked over coffee, eyes widening.
My father suggested that we†might consider somewhere in the country less “tense” than Jerusalem —Tel Aviv, perhaps?
Other than that I’m transplanting my family — uprooting my young children from the familiar comforts of their home and dropping them into a new culture and language — what concerns my loved ones about the move is, of course, the security situation in Israel. And while I understand their worries, and†to some extent share them, I’ve mostly been able to shrug them off.
Until last month, that is. My husband and I skipped Thanksgiving turkey and instead spent a few days in Jerusalem, planning our upcoming move for his sabbatical year. We arrived amid a surge of violence in Israel, and I worried I might find a country fraught with tension, people looking over their shoulder at every turn. But it was the same country I remembered from my summers as a teenager —the same open-hearted people, the same buzzing energy, the same golden light.
A couple days into our trip, over breakfast at our hotel, I opened the newspaper and read that there had been a stabbing at the Mahane Yedudah market the day before. Two Palestinian teenage girls had chased market-goers with scissors, and one of them stabbed a Palestinian man she mistook for an Israeli. Just the other day, a man from Hebron plowed his car into a group of civilians waiting at a bus stop, injuring 14 people, including an 18-month-old whose leg had to be amputated.
That last detail rattled me the most. It’s one thing to take risks as an individual but another thing to do so as a parent. Was I really going to take my two young children to live in a city where things like this happen?
The answer is yes. Instead of worrying about these what-ifs, I’m trying to focus on the reasons we’re choosing to live in Israel. Over the years, my husband and I developed a deep love for the country. For my husband, living on a kibbutz for a year during high school was a formative experience. For me, it was summers spent teaching English to children in underprivileged Israeli communities. We want to instill that connection to Israel in our children while they’re still young. We also want them to delight, as we do, in Israeli culture: the language, the food and, above all, the people. Yes, the people —who are always in your business, always giving you their opinions, but in the warmest possible way.
Since returning from our Thanksgiving trip, I’ve found that my once blurry images of our lives in Israel are starting to come into focus.
I like the way they look: my kids, tanned from all that time in the sun, licking ice cream cones from the shop on the corner; my husband and I enjoying a leisurely hour together at the neighborhood café on Friday morning before picking the kids up from school. I know there will be hard times too, probably even scary times. But we’ll get through them, just like