Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Jewish services on Passover and Yom Kippur traditionally conclude with "Aliyah", a saying that translates roughly to "next year in Jerusalem". According to Wikipedia (the source of all truth) "aliyah" usually means the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel. More specifically, the term aliyah "includes both voluntary immigration for ideological, emotional, or practical reasons and, on the other hand, mass flight of persecuted populations of Jews."

Now, I am not Jewish, nor do I claim to have any depth of understanding of Jewish traditions or language. However, a twenty-something friend of mine and her young family is moving to the land of Israel under the Jewish tradition of Aliyah.

My young friend is Jewish and was raised in (smoggy, urban-sprawling, freeway-jammed, flashy, fashion-oriented, star-studded) Los Angeles. Her 30 year old husband was born in Israel, but has spent part of his youth and most of his adulthood in California. This couple have two very young children, "young" as in two and under. They also have a chance to make a significant change in their lives, by trying young married life on a large, modern kibbutz in Israel. And yet, they are young enough to return to the U.S. if things should not work out for them as they hope.

I myself have been transplanted voluntarily. Not across country borders, but from one end of the North American continent to the other. My bi-coastal cousins and I may speak the same English language but we have very different cultures. And after living in the sun-warmed, laid-back, tolerant San Francisco bay area for 30 years, its impossible for me to think about moving back to the (stodgy, rigid, and frigid) East Coast, even though my father and five siblings all still live there.

Thirty years is a long time to live in once place. However, it didn't take very long for me to feel that California was "home".

What if my friend doesn't like living in Israel? What if the kibbutz proves to be too confining? And then again, what if she loves living and raising her young children in Israel?

All I know for sure is that two California based grandfathers will be spending more time on international flights to Ben Gurion airport over the next couple of years.

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