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Honeymoon in the Holy Land

Malki Lowinger

They loved their year in seminary, and can’t wait to return to the palpable holiness of Eretz Yisrael. But when they return as idealistic kollel wives, they find that nothing is the same. What to expect when you come back, and how to make the most of the opportunity.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

airplane

Just weeks into her seminary year in Eretz Yisrael, Rikki is captivated. She loves this beautiful little country, with its winding streets, quirky neighborhoods, mosaic of people, and precious children. She even loves the exasperating cultural oddities. Everything is different, yet she feels so at home. “When I get married,” she promises herself, “this is where I want to live.”

Fast forward two and a half years. Rikki’s dream has come true. Her bashert, Dovi, is hesitant about Rikki’s plan to move to Eretz Yisroel — he is already settled in his yeshivah in Lakewood. But her enthusiasm is contagious, and he begins to look forward to coming back to the Mir. They bid goodbye to family and friends and begin married life in a small but adequate apartment in Yerushalayim. Everything seems perfect.

Except one thing. Rikki is miserable. Three weeks after her move, she has unpacked, arranged the cabinets, and visited the localmakolet. Now she finds herself staring at the four walls of her apartment.

She lands an office job but the lengthy bus ride and minuscule paycheck —– she’s earning less than a cleaning lady — make her rethink the effort. She applies for college courses but the registrar’s office informs her that the program she wants is not offered this semester. She and her husband invite Shabbos guests, which keep her occupied Thursday and Friday. But what about the rest of the week?

Rikki tries to keep stay connected to family abroad. Every day at three, she calls her mother and her sisters back in New York who update her on the latest news: her nephew’s upsheren, her best friend’s vort, everything she’s missing. They send her lots of pictures, of course. But it’s not the same as being there.

Rikki knows she should feel thrilled to have reached this milestone but instead she finds herself constantly moved to tears. Is something wrong with me, she wonders. Am I so immature that I can’t handle being away from my family? And what will my husband think when he realizes that I’m miserable — after I pushed him to move here?

 

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