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.

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