Strangers in a Stranger Land

Even though I am beginning to understand a bit of Hebrew, know what to do in some situations, and am starting to expect certain things from our new life here in HaAretz, I still think of myself as an utter stranger here. On the inside I feel more at home then any other place I have been in on the planet but I suspect that I will always feel like a stranger to some extent in this amazing and crazy land. I have also noticed however, that when I take a moment to really look at the people around me, that everyone else also seems to be a stranger in some indefinable way to there environments. Even the Sabras (born Israelis) seem a little like they are strangers. Now that is a strange word for born Israelis… Sabra. It comes from a cactus plant that is indigenous to Mexico in Northern America. The idea behind this unusual choice of names is that a Sabra is prickly on the outside and soft on the inside. The analogy sure fits, but what about the origination of the plant? I would think they would have picked a plant something like the amazing black iris (iris shakum) that I saw on one of our hikes in the Negev Desert that only blooms for about a month a year and is an endangered species because it really only lives in a tiny little section of the dessert. Or even better, the amazing little red flower (forgot its name) that grows in Israel that, when sectioned and looked at under a microscope, it has the exact shape of a Magan David (Star of David). There are sabra cactus plants here all over the place, even in the shukes (open air markets) where they are de-prickled and served with fresh fruit and watermelons. But that is really beside the point. What I am getting at is that this Country was created out of not only the ashes of a more ancient Country and culture, but that it was created out of the ashes of humanity as well. That is a heavy thing to think about, however it can be looked at from a literal perspective (the Holocaust), or from a more esoteric perspective.

The people that live here in Israel are from almost every culture on Earth. There is a kibbutz called Ofir (means fawn) of East Indian Jews not far from Zichron, where the people sometimes can be seen in Sari’s, like from Hodu (India). There are Chinese Jews, Korean Jews, Russians (some Jewish and some not by the standards of The Rabbinate in Israel), Jews from North America, and Jews from South America like the guy I met in Jerusalem that was from Peru that looked like a native Indian from the mountains (that was an interesting story) or our new friends, Olim (new imagrants) from Mexico City, Mexico. There are people from all over the world, Africa (both white and black), Asia, Australia, Europe, and don’t forget the Middle East. Israel is a tiny little speck on the map of the Middle East and most of the Arab countries threw their Jews out when Israel became a nation in 1948 and many of them ended up here too. There are major differences between Iraqi Jews and Moroccan Jews, between Yemenite Jews and Jerusalem born Jews, between Ethiopian Jews and other Jews from North Africa. I believe that Israel is the new melting pot. It is a place where cultural and religious differences are common. It is a place where Notzrim (Christians), Muzlimim (Muslims), Yehudim (Jews), Dattiim (religious), Chilonim (Secular), Druzim, and Bahaim, all live together, for better or worse. Israel is a place where all the amazing and varied peoples of the Earth coexist (maybe that isn’t the exact word…) but, if you look at the economics of the region as a whole, thrives as well.

The place I live, in my heart and in my soul, physically emotionally and spiritually, is a place that so many people share; people from all over the world and also from right next door. We all seem to be looking for balance and meaning in our lives. We are all opinionated and sometimes rude and obnoxious, however when it really counts, we are there for each other. It is like living on the cutting edge of the knife of humanity. The world is there, in all its amazing glory, and we all exist together as we ride through the universe in time and space like tiny molecules, seeking form and function, seeking meaning and understanding. Israel is the edge of that reality for me and for most of the millions of people that are here with me, sharing this voluptuously cosmic ride, to the ends of our beliefs, and then, (Baruch Hashem), beyond.

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