Friday, April 14, 2006

Life without Breath

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."
Jane Howard

I'm kinda struggling with how to exactly write this blog, so bear with me. The first day of Pessach (Passover) just ended Thursday night and for the 4th straight year, I spent it with people whom I don't call Mom, Dad, Tov or Eitan. After being 'spoiled' for so long with the amazing warmth, food & traditions of my family during Passover (and Shabbatot & Chagim in general), I've now kinda grown accustomed to being with a new family each year when the Seder arrives. This is the first time I've actually really struggled with the feelings that yet again, my family would not be together. This 'hole' has truly been my biggest struggle since I made aliyah, with this chag suddenly stressing the longing, the desire, the need to be around them. Not hearing the Ladino songs or phrases that my dad reads from the Hagaddah (the Passover 'prayer book') or eating my mom's unrivaled dishes (bendichas manos, ‘of blessed hands’ in Ladino) or just not having the warmth of the 5 of us being together leaves the chag missing something so vital in the equation for me. My last blog (it feels like I wrote it decades ago) spoke of how I'd come so far in the last 3 years here, but yet no matter how far I've 'traveled', this hole still eats away at me, especially during times when I'm 'supposed' to be with them.

I've always really enjoyed spending Shabbatot and Chagim with my family. Granted as a younger chap, times with the family would almost always mean some bickering and arguing but still, those nights helped instill something in me and my siblings. My parents were not only teaching us the importance of the Chagim, Shabbat & our family's traditions, but they were also strengthening our family bonds - something that sadly seems to go unstressed nowadays in too many families worldwide. It has been such a major part of my upbringing, and I am so grateful for the relationships it has helped me forge with my family. These strong bonds however have now ironically become the thorns in my move here as I know that I've missed out on so much back 'home'. I have missed out on my lil bro growing up and slowly but surely, becoming a 'mensch'. I was barely able to keep up with my sister's Florentine adventure, and I somehow know that it will be just as difficult to track her new adventure as a member of Google in London. I have truly missed my long talks with my parents, and while the internet has helped alleviate that, it cannot replace what I had just a few years ago. I guess that's part of the 'Zionist Dream'. If you come here alone, you sacrifice things that are of extreme importance to you. However, on a positive note, it makes me appreciate my family even more, and I hope that one day in the not so distant future, we can all live in the same country (or at least the same continent!) and enjoy each other's presence more frequently.

"The family is one of nature's masterpieces"
George Santayana