Friday, November 30, 2018

I visited Israel: And This is How It Felt

Israel Startup HQ in Tel Aviv
Here's me at Startup HQ in Tel Aviv. 

I wrote this while sitting on the plane in Israel during boarding. These are the days I miss, when words just spill out of me like the overflowing havdalah cup on Saturday nights. It doesn't always happen like this, but when it does, I know I'm getting close to being back to my happy place. 

When I made aliyah back in 2012, I had two — count 'em two — solid jobs. I was pretty sure that neither would let me go, because both were Jewish organizations and I was, after all, moving to Israel. Then, just a few months after arriving in Israel and meeting Mr. T, I was let go without much ceremony. It was heartbreaking. I got married, I got pregnant, and I was jobless. I picked up some freelance content writing work through connections, I applied for several full-time jobs in the tech sector doing stuff I didn’t want to do, and I turned down a few jobs because I couldn’t handle the soul-sucking possibilities.

I spent the second half of my time in Israel underemployed and mostly broke. It was incredibly depressing and demoralizing. My English was great and a definite plus, but my Hebrew wasn’t good enough to make it in most workplaces.

For the longest time, my biggest worry about returning to Israel has been the financial one. Everyone says where there’s a will, there’s a way, but I refuse to live in poverty, constantly in the red, wondering how I’m going to buy groceries. I’ve done it in Israel. I’ve done it in the U.S. I refuse to do it again — and I refuse to live on credit.

During my trip this past week to Israel, I was supposed to spend a day touring the Old City and Har Ha’Bayit. I found out last minute that I can’t visit Har Ha’Bayit without visiting the mikvah first, and then our rabbi said it was a blanket “no” for visiting anyway. There were three other tracks, and I opted for the one that seemed least attractive: a high-tech day in startup nation in Tel Aviv. Some of the people I’d really connected with on the trip were heading on that track, so I said okay, and we were off.

We met with some really fascinating people (and one guy who wasn’t so fascinating) and I ended up realizing that, since leaving Israel, I’ve acquired quite a bit of experience in fields that could — and should — make me marketable in Israel now.

Not only did I spend nearly two years working for a hardware IoT startup that I took to market, but I’ve also been working in inbound marketing and all it entails as a copywriter and editor. My English is 100, and with the right time and patience, my Hebrew can get back to where it was.

As the tour guide said when I told him my recent experience, he said that people would be doing backflips to hire me. Now’s the time to come back, he said.

My ultimate dream is that Tesla opens an office in Israel and Mr. T can put in for an easy transfer and that my job, in which the entire company is remote, will let me work from Israel as long as is humanly possible. I’m just thinking about all of the potential business my company could acquire in Israel.

My wheels are spinning, and I’m considering carefully and thoughtfully what a return to Israel looks like. It’s so funny that I arrived and spent two or three days thinking to myself that a return to Israel with my three monkeys and husband in tow was an impossibility. And then, at some point, the magic of Israel, of the place, the people, it all hit me hard and I can think of nothing other than a quick return.

So, we’ll see how/where things go. Mr. T would drop everything tomorrow to move back. I, on the other hand, am much more practical and have to consider all the variables — financial chief among them.

And now? Time to buckle up for wheels up on my way back to the U.S. L’hitraot Yisrael (see ya Israel).

Here is something I wrote while visiting the Kotel (aka the Western Wall, and please don't call it the "wailing wall"), I wrote this in a moment of overwhelming emotion in which I felt like my breath had been knocked out of me and my heart leapt out of my chest. I was crying, overwhelmed, more so than I've ever been at the Kotel. I don't know what or why, but something was happening. 

Pigeons pining for our prayers
Pecking away at souls they know are there
Digging deeper into walls of stone
Finding comfort in this place we long to call home. 
Heartsick and the breath stolen
From my breast I can’t breath,
I can’t speak, can't see,
Because all there is is stone.

Want to ask me something? Click here: Ask away!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Reviving a Bygone Era: Poetry

Once upon a time, I wrote a lot of poetry. For ages, I was convinced I was going to be a poet. I went into university as an English major set on the idea of being an intellectually advanced poetry-composing artist. My dreams were swept under the rug after a visit to my dentist. Yes, during that visit I saw an English diploma hanging on her wall, and, after asking her about it, I decided that I absolutely was not going to go down the path of a wasted degree (but honestly, a necessarily evil, they're all pretty much wasted these days).

I did my best to continue writing, doing slam poetry, trying to keep my mind nimble, but somewhere along the line (during my first marriage) I fell out of love with it. I miss poetry, I miss being able to sit down and the words just flowing like they were already out there in existence and I was merely recording them (think: the Oral Torah) for future generations.

On that note, here's an oldie but a goodie that I once penned in the days when I was generically Missouri born and Nebraska grown Amanda Edwards, shortly before my Reform conversion.


I fill the shoes of a Jew, and the
wind that floats by your face may be a piece of
me.  but I am no longer in a ghetto.  for now,
they say.  I am in the shul, next to you where you ponder
how history has repeated itself.  I feel like
repetition, with your fingerprint on my history.

northern Africa, Poland, Germany … history moves like
water in its cycle.  changing, but always coming
back to it’s primary form.

and you walk past me as if you can smell it on me,
like fresh matzo or kosher wine.

perhaps I have the nose, the nose that seems to run,
everyone thinks, in centuries of g-d’s chosen.
or maybe you smell on me gelt, centuries
of money lenders and bankers. used and tossed
aside as needed and beckoned upon by kings and
other gentiles. you know it’s christianity’s history
that swore Jews to the money trade.

but it is merely the badge I wear on my arm,
this g-d forsaken yellow badge.  the chutzpah
of the goy who invented such a symbol, a mark
of some kind of chaye.  centuries after it was
created it is stapled to the skin of everyone who
was promised the holy land, who cherishes the
Sabbath and lives respectfully for and of life.

i didn’t kill your g-d.  Jesus was a liberal Jew.
do you notice that for centuries my community
has wanted nothing more than to live in peace?
and we are created and destroyed by being moved,
expelled, killed, murdered, our precious objects
of Passover and holy days stolen and ruined.
my halakah has been forked by your history.

museums are the resting place for my history, my
blood, my memories are kept in plastic boxes
with little cards and dates that mean nothing but to
say this is when a branch broke, a leaf fell, a vine
was ripped from it’s place and made to forget.

my torah, your book, my Talmud, your prayer,
your weapon, my words. my death, your hand.

my mother tells me I am merely a luftmensh, blind
to what will happen to my people someday. she
says to me, ‘my little bubbala, you know that
history has murdered a memory, soon the memory
will be murdered as well.’  we are all g-d’s chosen.

fershtay? do you understand? there is no rachmones
for anything my history has done for your present.

but history has learned nothing of itself, and I remember
everything of it, as it is in my blood, my eyes, my nose,
my fingers.  i breathe and sigh history’s mistakes everyday.

so let us lomir redn mamaloshn.
12 million voices, half murdered.
ashes to ashes, dust to dust, dirt to shmutzik.
you or I, it makes no difference.

little key:
shmutzik: dirt
shul: school
matzo: the bread made during Passover
gelt: money
gentiles: non-Jews
chutzpah: nerve, gall
chaye: beast
halakah: path (in Judaism)
Torah/Talmud: key Jewish books
luftmensh: someone with their head in the clouds
bubbala: darling
fershtay: do you understand?
rachmones: compassion
lomir redn mamaloshn: literally, “let’s talk Yiddish” or “get to the point”

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Israel: Everything is the same.

step out to cough, smoke
step out to breath, garbage strewn.
are they happy? no.