Monday, December 29, 2008

Chanukah and the Kassams (3 Year Aliya Anniversary)

A couple of friends of mine are big 'Birthday people'. You know the kind – there's a celebration on the actual day, a party that weekend and a joint party the week after.

While not begrudging anyone extra celebrations, I never really identified. So imagine my surprise when I realized that I have become the same – not a birthday person per se but an 'Aliya anniversary person.'

This year I've not only 'celebrated' both my Hebrew and English Aliya dates (first night Chanukah and Christmas day respectively).

I also spent the whole week telling everyone its 3 years since I moved here.

Back in December 2005, before my Aliyah, I wrote that if a place can make you cry - make you shout at the TV when a politician you disdain is speaking or produce pride that your country brings its boys home (even when you don't agree with it)… if a place can trigger those emotions - then how can you not live there?

3 years on, despite not waking up every morning with the Zionistic fervor of a swamp drainer, I still believe (as I wrote last year) that Israel remains the front line in shaping the Jewish people's future.

And as long as I can, I want to remain a part of it.

Yet living in a place that can make you cry can often lead to tears and frustrations (more frustrations than tears - I am a guy after all).

There's the rockets in the South which show no sign of abating;

The fear that initial successes in Gaza will be followed by the failures of Lebanon;

The continued, creeping erosion of the two state solution and our Jewish democratic state with it ;

Upcoming elections without the belief that change is possible;

and an increasingly quasi-Messianic minority who the State seemingly can't control.

Yet in the context of this darkness comes Chanukah, the festival of light, the victory of the Maccabees over Hellenists, of Jerusalem over Athens, of one way of life over another.

Their differing conceptions of how the world works is reflected in the story of how humanity gained the knowledge of making fire. Greek mythology tells of Prometheus stealing it from the Gods on Mount Olympus. As a punishment Zeus ties him to a rock and his liver is eaten (daily) by an eagle.

The Jewish myth (or Midrash for those who prefer) of human technological advancement explains that on the 8th day of creation (after Shabbat), God teaches Adam and Eve the secret of making fire.

For one, life is tragic, a constant battle against the will of the gods. For the other, life is about a divine-human partnership; towards bettering the world. It's about Tikva, Hope.

So as we finish lighting candles to brighten up our stormy nights, let's be strengthened by the idea that our Tikva – the one that guided us through the darkness of the past, and the one that continues to inspire Olim to make their home here – Od Lo Avda, is not yet lost.


caroline said...

very inspiring, and endearingly honest. keep writing!

Anonymous said...

what does that mean?

In future please write clearwer. thank.

Max Powers said...

I wonder if you'll still be celebrating your anniversary once you hit 33 years in Israel - that is, if Israel still exists. At this rate the Jews are driving themselves into the sea. mwah

Paul said...

Beautiful achi.
I hope after three years I am also able to see things so clearly, and yet remain so inspired.

BraveJeWorld said...

Well written and well said.
Happy Birthday and of course you'll be celebrating your 33yd aliyahniversary and many more in the future.

Philip I said...

Palestinians should convert to Judaism

The Ginrod said...

great post c!