Thursday, April 24, 2003

A Different Aliyah

Rachel just doesn’t get it. I’ve explained it again and again. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A chance to become a part of Jewish history. To not just live as a minority in some other culture’s history, but to make our own. How can someone who feels such a connection to the Jewish people – and I know Rachel does - turn down the chance to make the desert bloom?

Rachel straightens her headscarf and heads to the corner of the small room that serves as the kitchen. She angrily throws a pot of lentils on the fire and mutters something about needing to make bread but feeling too tired. Maybe in the morning. I resist the temptation to complain about dinner. It will be the fourth time this week that all we’ve had is lentils.

The streets outside our small house are all abuzz with excitement. It’s early evening. The sky is in the process of going from blue to deep purple. There seems to be something hovering in the air, though at an altitude higher than I can make out, but still discernible. I can smell change in the air.

Most of our friends work at one of the many construction sites in the neighborhood. As they start arriving home from a hard day of labor, there is a sense of hope for the first time in as long as I can remember. But their anticipation is tempered since an even larger group is doing all it can to keep us in check.

The argument of the nay-sayers is simple and at times deceptively compelling: times are tough, but the devil you do know is better than the devil you don’t. And who is this aliyah emissary anyway? He talks about the need to emigrate, the importance of the endeavor, but he doesn’t speak for everyone. Who appointed him in the first place?

Still, I’ve made up my mind. I’m going. How long have we dreamed of such a thing? To think that it is within our grasp, in our generation.

Oh sure, it will be tough. Our standard of living will definitely take a significant step downward.

Not that it was so great to start with. The taxes have been outrageous. And do you know what it costs to get your kids into a good school these days? You’ve practically got to bribe the headmasters. Kids are actually dropping out of school to go to work, not because they want to. But what other choice do they have?

And then there are the accommodations: these transit camps they’re talking about don’t sound anywhere near as nice as our small but cozy homes here. The building standards where we’re going are supposed to be primitive by comparison to what we’re used to.

Not to mention the food. Until things really get up and running, I’ve heard that it’s going to be near impossible to import our favorite stuff from “the old country.”

Don’t worry, they say, the food will be tasty, but it will pretty much be the same thing everyday. Creative use of spice is the key. Sure, I’ve heard that before.

But still, those are all just creature comforts. What’s important is unity. Togetherness. Living in peace and harmony.

Speaking of which, I understand that the peoples who are already there aren’t too keen about sharing their land with a bunch of newcomers. They’ve already informed our leaders that they’ll fight us, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, should we attempt to expropriate any of their property for our own use.

But what are we supposed to do? We’re looking at genocide here. What, we should just sit quietly and watch as our male-born children are thrown into the river? I don’t care how nice your living room furniture is; it’s just not worth it. Why don’t the world bodies understand that we need a homeland here! This is a matter of survival.

Hey, what’s that sound? The commotion on the street has died down. That smell I told you about, that there was something way up in the sky? Well, it’s getting a whole lot closer now. Wait…are those…locusts? At this time of year? Man, things are really getting freaky these days. Must be a sign. But from who…or what?

Well, maybe we’ll find that out too when we leave. I can’t wait. Rachel, she’ll come around, I’m sure of it. This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime!

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