Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In Defense of Aliyah

I was really surprised to get this question on my Formspring account, but I thought I could give it better justice if I answered it here. The question?
Why do you think aliyah will solve your problems? You have a tendency to run away from anything that gets difficult: your marriage, school, New Jersey, strict Orthodoxy, weight loss, and now CO and America. Stop running, start dealing.
Okay. Where do I even begin on this one? I guess we could take it point by point. Ready? Let's go!

So aliyah. I've wanted to make aliyah for years. Evidence of this, in case you think that this is me attempting to escape life and do something crazy. 

From August 2011, in a huge post about Parshat Eikev
It makes me jealous of those who've been able to make aliyah (or moving to Israel) a real, tangible thing. And maybe what that nagging empty feeling that really strikes me at random intervals is. All I can say for now is, in time. Ultimately I'll be in Israel, I just don't know when. HaShem promised it to my -- OUR -- forefathers, so it's only right that we should make it happen. It's not a "maybe," it's a "must be."
In August 2010 I talk about how I anticipate writing a book after I make aliyah to Israel. And then there's six years ago -- SIX YEARS -- in July 2006, in which I say,  "It's a reason I sort of hope to make aliyah." And ... you get the point. My old blog is locked down, but the dozens of posts that talk about making aliyah going back six years, well, I think they stand for themselves. I've always planned on making aliyah -- now is just the best time. 

Next issue? If you think I "ran away" from my marriage then ... well, that's not even worth discussing. The marriage failed, if I ran away, then so did Evan. But he met a nice gal and is already remarried, so I think that's a sign that the marriage wasn't working -- not that I "ran away" from it. It was bad, and all of those involved knew it wasn't meant to be. 

As for school, well, the NYU program was not doing it for me. I didn't feel challenged, I'd maxed out the Hebrew courses I could take, and when the professor of one of the Social Media courses asked me to come speak to her class, I realized that there was nothing that NYU could offer me that I didn't already have. It was a mistake to pursue it in the first place, to be honest. I should have stuck to my guns and gone for a PhD, but you live and you learn. 

New Jersey? Seriously? I "ran away" from New Jersey because that's what all sensible people do. I never wanted to live in New Jersey, it was just where it made sense for us to live at the time. (If I had had it my way, we would have lived in New York City). I had no intentions of staying there. 

So I "ran away" from "strict Orthodoxy" you say? What does that even mean. What is "strict Orthodoxy" exactly? I was never haredi if that's what you're saying. My observance right now is on par with what it was a year ago. Everyone has bumps in the road, and that's exactly what I had. A bump. But as far as being "strict Orthodox," I never was. So. I guess you can't run away from something you never were. I'm just Orthodox, folks. I'm frum. That's it. 

Weight loss. Wah? Last time I checked, I was still maintaining my ovo-vegetarian diet, going to the gym three-four times a week, and being all-around health conscious. I don't even know where this suggestion of "running away" comes from. 

And, lastly, I'm not running away from Colorado. I'm making aliyah. I'm fulfilling HaShem's command to possess the land at this very moment because I'm single and unattached and it's the best moment in my life. It makes sense. What are you doing? Are you fulfilling the mitzvah

If -- G-d forbid -- Israel doesn't work out, I'll head back to Colorado. Living in Colorado and altering my diet and way of life and soul-searching has put me in a happier place than I've ever been. It involved some therapy, removing "toxic" people from my life, and taking ownership of my own happiness and destiny. Colorado is amazing, and I always tell people that if you can't make aliyah, then do the next best thing: Move to Colorado!

Listen, as I've said a million times: This is my life. My decisions and actions seem abrupt, but they're usually very calculated and long-time coming. Sometimes it just takes a long time for me to get up to the point of saying "I'm doing this, right now." It took me a good eight months to ask for my get. I knew I needed it last January, but it took me eight months to get there. Aliyah is the same thing. I've wanted it for years, it just took me until I was in the right moment and the right mindset to feel like I was confident and secure enough to make it happen. 

So. I've never run away from anything in my life. I embrace things, I process them, I spend time figuring out how to handle them, and I tackle them head-on. 

I'm realizing my destiny. This is my Lech Lecha -- Israel is where I was meant to be, and I'm finally realizing that dream of being there. Of joining Am Yisrael and my mishpacha that is already there. I'm fulfilling a huge mitzvah. I'm not running away from anything -- I'm running to myself, to HaShem.