web analytics
December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



The Luckiest Jews In The World

      I just published a collection of my essays in English. Each time I am asked if I am also releasing the volume in Hebrew I feel a pain deep inside me when I answer that no, right now, my publisher is only interested in an English edition. Indeed it is a shame because I wrote most of the essays in Hebrew as well.

 

      Writing in Hebrew is a qualitatively different experience than writing in English. Hebrew is a more compact language than English. It has fewer words and the words it has are denser and more flexible than English words. A 1,200-word essay in Hebrew will be 1,800 words in English.

 

      This is a mechanical difference. But there are deeper distinctions as well. One level beyond the mechanics is the multiple meanings of Hebrew words. The density of meaning in Hebrew is a writer’s dream. Nearly anyone can imbue a seemingly simple sentence with multiple, generally complementary meanings simply by choosing a specific verb, verb form, noun or adjective. These double, triple and even quadruple meanings of one word are a source of unbounded joy for a writer. To take just one example, the Hebrew word “shevet” means returning and it also means sitting. And it is also a homonym for club – as in billy club – and for tribe.

 

      In 2005, the IDF named the operation expelling the Israeli residents of Gaza and Northern Samaria “Shevet Achim,” or returning or sitting with brothers. But it also sounded like it was making a distinction between tribesmen and brothers. And it also sounded like “clubbing brothers.”

 

      As this one example demonstrates, one joyful consequence of the unique density of the Hebrew language is that satirical irony comes easily to even the most dour and unpoetic writers.

 

      For a Jew, knowing, speaking and writing Hebrew is an intimate experience. This is particularly so for those of us whose mother tongue is not Hebrew – because as the secrets of the language slowly reveal themselves to us we feel we are discovering ourselves.

 

      Hebrew encapsulates the entirety of the Jewish story. Modern Hebrew in particular is an eclectic amalgamation of classical Hebrew, Yiddishisms, and expressions from the Sephardic Diaspora experience. Greek, Roman, Aramaic, Turkish, Arabic and English expressions meld seamlessly into the stream of words. It is not simply that it is the language of the Bible. Hebrew is also an expression of the unique culture of a small, proud, often besieged, often conquered and permeable people.

 

      Its power to explain that cultural experience and that historical baggage is something that often leaves a newly initiated member of the Hebrew-speaking world gasping in a mixture of disbelief and relief. It is unbelievable that a language can be so immediately and unselfconsciously expressive of feelings that have traversed millennia. Understanding its power as a tool of expressing the Jewish condition is one of the most gratifying discoveries a Jew can make.

 

      But the experience of speaking in Hebrew and of living in Hebrew is incomplete when it is not experienced in Israel. It is one thing to pray in a synagogue in Hebrew or even to speak regular Hebrew outside of Israel. The former is a spiritual duty and a communal experience. The latter is a social or educational experience. But speaking Hebrew in Israel is a complete experience. Hebrew localizes the Jewishness, Judaism and Jews. It anchors us to the Land of Israel. Taken together, the Hebrew language and the Land of Israel stabilize a tradition and make the Jewish people whole.

 

      I write all of this as a means of explaining why a Jew in the Diaspora, particularly the United States, would want to live in Israel. Leaving America is difficult on several levels. In my own experience, it involved physically separating from my entire family. It also involved cutting myself off from my language – English – and immersing myself completely in a tongue I had yet to master. Beyond that, it meant leaving a country that had done only good for me and for the generations of my family who fled to America from the pogroms in Eastern Europe at the turn of the twentieth century.

 

      As someone who loves me told me 17 years ago as I packed my bags for an unknowable future, “People don’t emigrate away from America. They beg to come to its shores.”

 

      But would it be right to characterize leaving America as an act of ingratitude? Do Jews have to reject America in order to go to Israel? No, we don’t.

 

      Coming to Israel is not rejecting America. It is embracing a choice to become whole in a way that life outside of Israel cannot provide. That doesn’t mean life cannot be fulfilling for a Jew outside of Israel. Millions of Jews can attest to the fact. It certainly doesn’t mean that life in Israel is easier or safer or more lucrative than life is elsewhere.

 

      Israel is a troublesome, hard, often irritating place. It is a young country that belongs to an ancient, eternal people who are all imperfect. Some Israelis, particularly those who today occupy the seats of power, are weak and irresponsible and often corrupt and self-serving.

 

      Israelis have quick fuses. Among other things, this distinctively Israeli rush to anger makes being stuck in rush hour traffic a bit like dancing a waltz in the middle of a shooting range. Then too, service is not a concept that most Israelis – particularly in service professions – are even vaguely familiar with.

 

      Beyond the general fallibility of Israelis, there are the wars and the hatred and the terror that make up so much of life in Israel. Being surrounded by enemies and living in the midst of jihad-crazed Arab states is like sitting on the edge of a volcano. And rather than acknowledge the danger and contend with it, Israelis – frustratingly and dangerously – more often than not blame one another for the heat while ignoring its source.

 

      Yet once a Jew catches the Zionist bug, none of that is important. Once a Jew allows himself or herself to feel the pull of our heritage, of our language and our land, the frustration, danger and hardship of living in Israel seems like second nature – as natural as breathing in and out.

 

      I recently moved to a home on the edge of a valley filled with forests and carpeted by wildflowers. Every day I hike for an hour or two along the trails below. A few days ago, as I walked late at night, I considered the dark and silent hills surrounding me and felt safe. They were liberated in 1948.

 

      As I stood for a moment, I thought to myself, “These hills have already been conquered for you, by people better than yourself. Now it is your job to keep them safe for the next generation. And it will be the next generation’s responsibility to keep them safe for the following one.”

 

      The thought filled me with a sense of privilege and peace.

 

      People ask me all the time why I insist on living in Israel. Usually I just shrug my shoulders and smile. I, a woman who makes my living from words, find myself speechless when challenged with this simple question.

 

      I spend several months a year away from Israel working. But every time I go away on a long trip, inevitably after three weeks or so, I begin to feel incomplete. I start to long for the smells of Israel. My ears ache to hear Hebrew all around me. I want to go back so I can walk down the streets on Friday afternoons and smile at perfect strangers as we bid each other Shabbat Shalom.

 

      Why do I live in Israel? Because Israel lives in me, as it lives in all Jews. It is who we are. And those of us lucky enough to recognize this truth and embrace it in all its fullness and depth are the luckiest Jews in the world.

 

      Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the last week of each month.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Luckiest Jews In The World”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A clip from"How to Stab a Jew," the latest hit on Arab social media.
‘How to Stab a Jew’ Going Viral on Palestinian Authority Social Media [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
Ben-Tsvi-122614

“Farming still allows some unique opportunities for mitzvah fulfillment that a city dweller never meets.”

Bill Cosby

It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.

Knesset Logo

The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.

The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.

What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.

A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!

More Articles from Caroline B. Glick
Mahmoud at an event hosted by the children of Palestine to support the efforts of the Palestinian leadership at the United Nations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah,October 1, 2011.

On November 24 Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo.

Last week at the UN, President Obama did something he had never done before. He discussed Israel and the Palestinians without once attacking Israel. He didn’t blame Israel for the absence of peace.

Imagine if 100 million Americans participated in the Tea Party movement. And then imagine that the movement had no impact on American politics. Finally imagine that in the wake of the Tea Party movement, Republicans embraced President Obama’s positions on spending and taxation.

According to Israel Army Radio, Prime Minister Netanyahu has offered to extend the moratorium on Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria for an additional three months in exchange for Jonathan Pollard’s freedom. That is, if Obama pardons Pollard, who has served 25 years of a life sentence for transferring classified documents to Israel, then Israel will agree to extend the ten-month moratorium on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, due to expire next week, for another three months.

According to Israel Army Radio, Prime Minister Netanyahu has offered to extend the moratorium on Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria for an additional three months in exchange for Jonathan Pollard’s freedom. That is, if Obama pardons Pollard, who has served 25 years of a life sentence for transferring classified documents to Israel, then Israel will agree to extend the ten-month moratorium on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, due to expire next week, for another three months.

In a much discussed article in the current issue of The American Spectator titled “America’s Ruling Class,” Prof. Angelo Codevilla describes the divide between those who run the U.S. – the politicians, bureaucrats and policy establishment – and the rest of the country.

In a much discussed article in the current issue of The American Spectator titled “America’s Ruling Class,” Prof. Angelo Codevilla describes the divide between those who run the U.S. – the politicians, bureaucrats and policy establishment – and the rest of the country.

Iran is on a winning streak. As it sprints towards the nuclear finishing line, it finds itself – and its allies and clients – being wooed by one and all. In contrast, Israel has never been more isolated.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/the-luckiest-jews-in-the-world/2008/04/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: