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This Way Up

As Told to Michal Eisikowitz

Every Jew’s heart is now focused on Eretz Yisrael, and all are supporting the Jews who live there. Which makes the wrenching decision to leave even harder. What goes into such a move? How do people deal with the logistics? And how can one hold on to the precious things she’s gained in the holiest of lands?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

May 17 // I’m sweating as I sponja at 2 a.m. Thursday night, trying to shepherd clouded water down a musty hole. And the unthinkable has happened: I’m actually going to miss doing this. Eretz Yisrael has been my home for 11 years. It’s the only place I know as a married woman, as a mother. Many starry-eyed newlyweds follow the script and float over here by default, but for us, building our family’s foundation here was a conscious decision. We understood that Toras Eretz Yisrael is unparalleled, that simplicity — this land’s trademark — makes room for spiritual growth. We knew that continual living in a space where material, logistical concerns orbit around a polestar called Yiddishkeit leaves an impact. But now our family of eight will be boarding a one-way flight in two months, and I know I’ll be crying as the palm trees bid us farewell. I have a pit in my stomach. Sure, my brain — and my bank account — tell me it’s the right thing: finances have become more of a strain each year, and Chezky’s geshmak in kollel has been steadily ebbing. When his former rebbi called, proposing a unique chinuch position in the States that would solve both problems, we knew it was a not-to-be-passed-up offer. But my list of concerns is as long as… the lines at Misrad Hapnim. Where will this move put me — my growth, my aspirations? In Eretz Yisrael, there’s this healthy spiritual peer pressure in the air. Away from that, will I fall prey to the treadmill culture, skittering from work to home to mall, too busy and breathless to daven Shemoneh Esrei or play on the floor with my kids? Will I forgo the neighborhood shiur and instead spend those rare spare minutes finding magenta headbands for my girls? I know that making one’s home inEretzYisrael is hardly a guarantee for spiritual success. Somehow, though, it seems like being close to Hashem is just easier here.

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