Friday, April 01, 2011

We're staying!!

This Sabbatical year has been a transformative experience for me and my family. While we always enjoyed our lives in Baltimore, there was always a feeling that something was missing. I was never able to put my finger on it. Was it a great, supportive community? No, we had that. Was it inner peace? No, we achieved that. Not until we spent some time in the holy land did we realize that what we were really missing was not a single, individual object or feeling, but something intangible, something bigger than all of us. There is an expression that you don't know what you had until it is gone (I think Shimon Peres said that about the Sainai desert.). In our case, we did not know what we were missing, until we had it. Humus on every street corner. Falafel on every plate. Shawarma wherever you look. But it's not just the food, it's the whole package. Israel completes us. They had me at "Shalom!"

So, it is with a heavy heart and a full stomach that I'm letting you know that we have decided to stay in Israel, and that we will be moving to Tel Aviv permanently. The heart is heavy because we will miss our home and our friends in the States. I will miss Sunday morning soccer, the Baltimore Ravens, poker with my favorite donkeys, the JHU computer science department, and two day weekends. Ann will miss her regular mahjong group, tennis league, Hadassa Gila meetings and events, ladies night out, and English. I would say what Elana is missing, but I'm having trouble finding out because we're currently not on speaking terms, and I've stationed a guard at the house and one at the airport to make sure she stays in Israel. The twins don't remember what it was like in America, so there's no issue there.

Since we're going to be in Israel, we have also decided to complete a lifelong dream and to become observant Jews. It is much more convenient to be religious in Israel, and given the shifting demographics in this country, we have decided to chose the team that is growing fastest and most likely to win. I'm not too thrilled about the whole not driving on Saturday aspect of this, or the daily leather straps, but I see advantages as well. For example, I've noticed an increasingly growing bald spot on the back of my head, which I will now be able to hide under my yarmulkah. As part of our transformation, we have decided to adopt more religious names. Going forward, Ann will be known at Tsirl. Please call me Mendl, and our kids will be Yentl, Tentl, and Bentl. We are also going to adopt a dog and call him Bob.

We are so excited about celebrating all of the Jewish holidays in Israel from now on. The only real downer, and it's a big one, is that April Fools Day is not observed that much here in Israel. It's always been my favorite holiday. The time of year that I get to say, in a loud voice:  APRIL FOOLS!