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Rochel Weber

At thirty he could no longer get into a kollel in America. The time for a move would be over. When he had married Tzivi, his in-laws had provided an apartment. Stuck in Yerushalayim. He felt a red shame creep up his face. You sheigetz! This is Yerushalayim.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

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Photo: Shutterstock

TThe impromptu reunion took place outside the bagel store. The streets around the yeshivah were alive, abuzz, as streams of men flowed off tenders to take up positions for the morning. Purposeful striders overtook meditative strollers, the occasional jogger intent on making it to his shtender on the button dodged all. Bochurim hurried along alleys to replace their tefillin bags in dirahs. Young husbands, Shloimy Weiler among them, chatted on cellphones as they headed in to morning seder. Shloimy suddenly felt a bang on his back. It was Aranowitz, an old friend and chavrusa, on his way to the Kol Haloshon booth to load the MP3 which kept him company on the bus journey to yeshivah. As they spoke, Ari Freimark and Gabi Broder emerged from the bagel store together, huge coffee cups warming their hands. 

Eating the lunch Tzivi had prepared him while watching his boys play with matchbox cars on the tiny porch, Shloimy didn’t even look at the free Hebrew Yaated he’d brought up. Aranowitz and Freimark . Both. At the end of this zman. And Broder was going, too — he’d said maybe one more year. He chewed on the crusty bread that Tzivi had filled with grilled veggies and cheese, just the way he liked it. The ten-minute schmooze before morning seder replayed like a film in his head, an animated discussion about kollelim and potential jobs. His friends were making plans, weighing options — he, Shloimy, had nothing to add.

Photo: Shutterstock

While Aranowitz was really reluctant to leave and had stuck in a lot of “if Mashiach doesn’t come” and “it’s crazy not geshmak to have to leave,” the general tone had been upbeat and practical. He supposed it was natural to get excited when planning a new start. Freimark ’s kids were the oldest, he really felt the need to settle them down in schools. Aranowitz had no family in Eretz Yisrael at all, life would be a lot easier for his wife in America. Broder was happy learning in Yerushalayim for now, but he planned to go into chinuch, and he couldn’t do that in Hebrew. For him, the move back was a step closer to what he felt was his role in life. 

And Shloimy Weiler, who they’d called “the poritz” these eight years, with his own apartment, his wife a native speaker with a decent job, and his in-laws minutes away, was the one with no plans. He had no choices to make, nothing to weigh and choose from together with his wife and Rosh Yeshivah. 

He loved Yerushalayim. The life he had chosen was wonderful, and he and Tzivi were definitely created for each other. But sometimes, now that all the old crowd had left or were leaving, Shloimy Weiler felt as homesick as he had during the very first zman in yeshivah. He wondered about the decision which he could barely remember making.

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