Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon

by Krista on February 23, 2014 — What giant step did you take in which you hoped your leg wouldn’t break? Was it worth it, were you successful in walking on the moon, or did your leg break?

I was born in Brooklyn, New York in March 1947. By the end of 1977 I found myself at emotional loose-ends. I was closing the book on chapter one of my life and looking for the next part of the story. Which is why, in January 1978, I tossed everything into a couple of trunks, got permission to take my son with me … and ran away to join the circus. Well, not the circus. I made Aaliyah and went to live in Israel which is very similar. I’d wanted to go there since I was an overly romantic teenage girl with visions of Ari Ben Canaan stuffed in my head.

I had a bunch of reasons for going, though the bottom line was a persistent hunger for adventure and a yearning for romance. It went like this:

  • My marriage was over. I wanted to get on with life and being very far away seemed like a fine choice
  • I wanted to put an ocean between me and my father. I forgot this would put an ocean between me and everyone else, too
  • My idea of Israel was gleaned entirely from books, movies and Mom — but it sounded great
  • I wanted to get out of my safety zone and into a wider world. I was bored
  • I wanted culture shock. To immerse myself in a different society. Really bored
  • I was tired of suburban life and wanted to do something big. Or, in other words, I was really, really bored.

How did it go? I gave up a lot to go there. Everything. Except my son. Divorce is easy if you hand everything to your ex and take a hike. I probably should have made a better settlement but I was young. Freedom was worth everything. Eventually I came to realize money matters too, but back then, it didn’t seem all that important.

I got plenty of excitement. I got layer upon layer of history, the ghosts of millennium walking with me on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. I got romance too, but not the sweaty, breast-heaving sort. It was the romance of discovery, more interesting than I dreamed. All in all, a worthy adventure.

Where I used to live.

Where I used to live.

I learned a lot in Israel. I discovered how provincial and ignorant I was. I learned how inaccurate the international press is, that everything you read about the Middle East is slanted. Sometimes, it’s completely untrue. As in “that never happened.”

Israelis — like other people — are not of one mind. Israelis don’t walk, talk and think in lock-step. If you know anything about Jewish culture, the idea that millions of Jews could live together and agree on anything (much less everything) is funny. Get three Jews in a room and you’ll have 4 — or more — opinions. With millions of Jews all packed together? Imagine the possibilities.

When I am asked about Israel, I find myself saying: “It’s complicated.” Which translates to “The amount of time it would take me to answer your question exceeds any real interest you have in the subject. ” Where Israel is concerned, it’s always complicated. Because everyone is right. And wrong.

Flaws and all, it’s the only place on earth where Jews live by a Jewish calendar, where we aren’t a tiny minority. We need Israel as our safe place when nowhere else will take us in. It’s not paranoia — it’s history. Without Israel, Jews are fragile nomads, blowing with the winds of war and public sentiment.



What brought me back?

I’m American. This land is my land (please join in for the chorus). The seasons sync with my body. I can smell the salt air of the Atlantic. The trees are the right color and they turn gold in autumn. After 9 years away, I needed to come home.

I’m glad I went, glad I stayed but very glad I came back.

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Categories: History, Israel, Personal, Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. there does seem go be places we ‘belong’.
    and other places we don’t.
    i’d like to think i could go and live anywhere.
    but i haven’t found it so.


  2. Thank you for sharing this experience with us, it sounds like a wonder-filled adventure! Has your son inherited your gene for escapade and travel?


    • He was with me in Israel and remembers it fondly. HE at least actually learned to speak Hebrew. I think he’d travel more if he had money and time. He likes traveling, but time (work) and money (sigh) are challenges.


  3. * their – there
    I even spell checked that word and still messed up. Maybe blame it on spell check?
    Hi Marilyn


  4. I love how you tell a story or experience and put me their.
    I never want your story to end.


  5. I’m glad you went and learned a lot first hand rather than learn from the media.


    • Thank you. I did learn a lot, on many levels. But, to be honest, I didn’t go with education in mind. I really wanted an immersion experience in differentness. More than anything else, I wanted the world to look different, smell different. For people to behave in new ways and talk other languages. And that’s exactly what I got. I didn’t realize how completely it would affect me personally and how much my world view would change as a result … change permanently, but you can’t learn how “other” the world is just by reading about it 🙂


  6. Lovely! When I read the Jerusalem section in ‘Teepee,’ immediately wanted to experience it for myself. xxx


    • I forever alters ones concept of ‘old.’ Of course, you come from a place with enough of it own antiquities to not be quite as mentally rearranged as I was … but coming from the U.S. where “old” is a couple of hundred years, dealing in millenium is a whole new ballgame. I loved that part of the experience. Everyone should spend some time in a completely different culture, at least for a while. Just for the experience.


  7. I never believe much in the news in any case and the facts are always twisted. What I wante to say is that I grew up in part of London where there was a very large Jewish influence, near Whitechapel. The high school I visited was centered in Spitalfields market and half of the school were Jewish. We would be a little jealous on the Jewish holiday when they could stay at home celebrating Pessach or whatever, and we had to go to school. They had there own prayers in the morning and also had their own kitchen staff for school dinners. I remember the cutlery was even engrave with a “K”. I had many Jewish friends, . Their names were just a little complicated perhaps. Living in Israel must have been an interesting experience.


    • I grew up in a completely Christian environment and didn’t actually know I was Jewish until I was in third grade, about 8 years old. My parents forgot to tell me. I spent the rest of my life playing religious catch-up, trying to figure out where I fit in. I’m still trying to figure it out.


  8. I’ve always wanted to go to Turkey rather than Jerusalem… mostly because that’s the cradle of my history — though most Westerners will disagree with me. But I’m terrified of flying and that’s just one hurdle I can’t overcome. I’m glad you got your 9 years. It sounds like your journey abroad was enriching.


  9. I think the entire middle east is complicated. It is great to read true stories and get perspective on this great historical place. I think Jerusalem should be on my bucket list.


    • It is beautiful, rich in history and magical — and the weather is pretty good. Lots of sunshine most of the year. It’s also insane. Like an old-time Appalachian feud that’s gone on for a few thousand years. They got some serious grudges going.

      Jerusalem should be on everybody’s bucket list!



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  4. Daily Prompt Catch-up: Walking on the Moon | Incidents of a Dysfunctional Spraffer

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