One of the many reasons I often feel like I’m not “Jewish enough” is that I haven’t been to Israel before. I was thinking about going some time in the next year if the opportunity presented itself. It likely would, but I don’t trust my luck. I have always had a sinking feeling that I would be in the one group where things go massively awry.
Right now, a lot of us have friends and loved ones in Israel. Most of the time, I do not really worry about their safety or well-being. So many American college students have an overwhelmingly positive experience in Israel, and many people in Israel probably live in safer conditions than parts the US.
Right now, however, I feel a bit uneasy. I know I would not feel comfortable going to Israel at present. But I feel as though I might be giving up an opportunity that I can’t get back. If I say “not this year” for too many more years, the programs won’t be available to me anymore.
I have to remind myself continually that stepping onto Israel’s soil doesn’t make me a Jew. I am a Jew regardless. Perhaps I feel that missing out on Israel is like missing out on Jewish sleep away camps all over again.
under Date Night
Recently, while spending the night at my mother’s house, I came across a box I somehow hadn’t noticed before. Curious, I opened the box. Then, I looked inside the box. I don’t think that this cardboard box had been opened in fourteen years.
The first item that I retrieved from the box was a yin-yang necklace. That is exactly what you think it is. It is also equally as terrible. As I dug deeper, I found a few baseball cards. Next, I found a few Pogs. I hadn’t realized yet that I had put everything circa 1997 into a box and stored it underneath my bed.
Also sitting in the box were stacks of letters that I received during the summer of 1997 at a Jewish sleep-away camp. Most were from my parents, who were in the process of divorcing one another. I also found a letter from my great-grandmother dated a few months before she died. I couldn’t make out some of the words as I have never been good at deciphering cursive. I’m sure that back when I got it, I skimmed it and then put it inside the box that would not be opened for another fourteen years. Rereading it, there wasn’t anything especially significant about it. She lamented that she could not go outside anymore. She also told me to use sunscreen. I didn’t get the irony of that until right now as I am writing this.
Even if I did read the entire letter back in 1997, it wouldn’t have made any difference in whatever I was doing that day. I would probably have continued working up the courage to ask Andrea to be my date for Shabbat. (That is not her real name. If it is, it is only because I have not been able to find her on Facebook, so she must not exist.) In retrospect, that was the worst Shabbat ever. I never even talked to her. The next day, one of her friends told me that she doesn’t want to be my date again. She said this while laughing. That is not important here, but it was really mean.