Upon returning to California after almost seven years living in Israel, navigating the waters of change and the tides of time.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Gay Puerto Rico

It's a known and documented fact that I spent the majority of my time, energy and resources (material, emotional and spiritual) on the quest to convince any and all of my four adult children to move to Israel when I made Aliyah in 2007.

At the time, they were 20, 22, 24 and 26 - and all of them thought my Aliyah would be a passing fancy, a mid-life crisis, a shiny toy that would soon lose my interest. None of them took me up on the offer to relocate them at my expense when I first moved there.

Over the years, one by one, they all eventually visited. Some for a short time - two weeks, in the case of my daughter, four years in the case of one of my sons, 2 months another, etc. - but none of them wanted to LIVE there.

I cried. I prayed. I lit candles, gave tzedakah, did tshuva, learned Torah, prayed more, did hibbodidut, offered cash and prizes, attempted trickery and bribes, prayed some more, cried some more.
And still they refused to fall in love with the Land of Israel and desire to live there.

This caused me much anguish and frustration, until finally, only a few short months ago after years of this conflict, my oldest son Jesse explained it to me this way:

"Mom, you know how Cameron is all out-there about being bisexual, right? Well, what if President Obama declared that Puerto Rico was America's new 51st State, and that all the GLBT people in the USA were encouraged to move there, in fact they were given financial aid and tax breaks to move there, and what if Cameron moved there and wanted us to move there with him? What would we do?"

"I guess we'd go to visit him there, but we wouldn't move there," I replied.

"Why not, Mom? Why wouldn't we move there?"

"Because we're not gay."

"Exactly, Mom. And that's why we're not moving to Israel. Because to us, your children, Israel is your Gay Puerto Rico."

It was at that moment that any hope I had ever had - hope that was strong, hope that was strengthened in prayer, hope that was held on by nothing more than sheer will, completely collapsed. In fact, imploded.

I saw in that moment that I could indeed spend the rest of my life living in Israel, and praying my heart out, crying my eyes out and beseeching the heavens, but that unless my children suddenly turn into committed Zionists, they're not going to all pick up and move to Israel. Not now. Not that they are 32, 30 (married with twins), 28 and 26. Because Israel IS Gay Puerto Rico to them - a place to visit their Zionist (read: totally committed to something we're not that interested in for ourselves although we acknowledge it's right for you and we don't have anything against it in principle, it's just not for us) mother.

I lost my hope. In a moment. And I saw my future in Israel - alone, working myself into exhaustion just to get enough money to come visit them once a year for a few weeks at a time. And I saw there was another choice - I could go to California, be on the ground to be a part of their real everyday lives, get economically stabilized and make Israel my vacation place, my go-to place instead.

The landslide towards realizing this relocation was coming began with my daughter giving birth to my first grandchildren, fraternal twin boys, a year ago, and it was solidified with the hiddush of Gay Puerto Rico.

So, here it is, and here I am - far away from Gay Puerto Rico, land that I love, living in Golus to be close to my family. After 3 1/2 weeks (including 4 Shabboses) here I can say the following with complete assurance:

The six days of the week in America are easy, and Shabbos is very, very hard here.  The six days of the week in Israel are hard, and Shabbos in Israel makes up for everything else that happened during the week.

Will it ever get easier? SHOULD it ever get easier? I don't know. It almost doesn't matter. Because I did it for love - and in the end (Zionist Dream or Gay Puerto Rico aside) that's all we take with us in the end - the love.

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In which I return to California after almost 7 years in Israel, because when the heart is in one place and the soul is in another, both the emotions and the body suffer.
Welcome to the chronicle of this phase of the long, strange, trippy story of my life ...