From the day I began to view myself as a writer, I vowed that I wouldn’t be maudlin in my writing, nor would I attempt to wring out emotions. But now the topic of conversation is my home, the one that embraces me with its silence at the end of a long day, the one that gives me peace of mind, the one that is flourishing now in all shades of green. And I can’t really keep quiet.
Nice to meet you. Aluma, 29, I’ve lived in Mehola, the first community in the Jordan Valley, since I was one year old. Many people my age prefer to rent an apartment together in the heart of the action, in Jerusalem, near Tel Aviv, or perhaps in the south where it’s a bit quieter. But I’ve already found my quiet.
The last few days have been filled with political PR in the Jordan Valley. Who hasn’t visited? Where haven’t they toured? All sorts of lobby groups and parliament members came to tour the hothouses, panoramic views, successful businesses, to meet with the locals. All to show how strategically important and relevant the valley is – words which make logical sense, but don’t really penetrate the heart. We aren’t looking for justification for our presence here. We’re here because of one simple promise which is higher than everything we are.
To that type of tour of the Jordan Valley, one which is deep and penetrates the heart, a tour into the places that no one knows about, I would like to take you.
Evening. I return from a brisk walk on the road (we jokingly call it the “Settlement Movement” here), turn off the light on the porch and linger a moment to stand outside, in the dark. The sky is high and cold; I’ve never seen a place with so many stars. They are clear, luminous, inviting me to make a wish. At this moment, I make a wish; my eyes well up with tears as I instantly feel the response.
When it’s not a walk to exercise, it’s simply a stroll. All of my best ideas are born on this stroll. All my big dreams become reality. All of my senses are sharpened and can suddenly take in even the elements I was closed off to until now.
On Friday night two weeks ago, I walked all the way to the gate of the community. One of the soldiers on guard was sitting there, and on the backdrop of the cars whizzing by on Highway 90, he read the weekly Bible portion in a sweet voice according to the traditional melody. If only to just hide somewhere and listen…
The mountains of the Jordan Valley are soft, round, beckoning you to outline their silhouette with your finger. It’s so gentle, the valley, so relenting. After the first rainfall, small green wisps can be spotted emerging from the dirt. After the second rain, the entire path is covered in them, the hills draped in grassy gowns, the wind making waves over them. It will stay like this for a few months. The rain will come and the green will intensify, and buttercups will grow. If the rain lessens, the green will lessen too. It pays attention to the time, the valley. Every year, during the week before Passover, when it’s spring all over the world, there’s usually one triumphant wave of sun that arrives and turns all of the grass, in just two days time, to yellow.
I’m not always lucky enough to meet with men who want to come all the way out here. But no matter where we do meet, I’ll always sneak in a comment to tell him that if we were to meet at my place outside, on the swing, it would be much more pleasant and easy to hear each other. Once, when one of the men did come out here, he leaned his head back on the swing, breathed deeply, shut his eyes and said: now I understand what you’re talking about.
My childhood landscape is the mountains of Jordan that turn pink at sunset. My sound is silence; yes, sometimes at five in the morning the birds overdo it a bit, but aside from that everything is wonderful. The traffic I get stuck in is a flock of sheep that crosses the road. Three minutes after I exit the community gate heading toward Jerusalem, awaits me, like the Little Prince, a line of hilltop that I call “the most beautiful landscape in the world.” The scents are of honeycomb (irresistible) and in the winter, of flowering citrus trees. The thing I am most careful about in the world is snakes, learning to spot from afar if that black hose is moving. My greatest love, and excuse me if it sounds sick, is getting off the bus on a summer noon and feeling my entire body evaporate from the heat until all that’s left in my head are the important things, and the nonsense melts away. And to discover that when your brother and father are building a deck and pergola on the porch, even on the hottest nights of the summer you can feel a breeze.
The moment I anticipate all week is walking to the synagogue as the Sabbath begins, throwing a glance to the right as I step out of the house, toward the rocky hill above which the sky is putting on the show of its life in pink and turquoise, and then going to pray with my heart bursting.
And the people here, oh the people. Every person can be himself without feeling weird. My childhood friends look so different than me, do different things than I do, but nevertheless, they are the truest friends in the world.
Last Tuesday, below the town of Migdalim that overlooks the valley, a large tire was burning in the opposing traffic lane. In the middle of the nothingness – a large tire on fire, cars slowing down, realizing what it is, and then flooring it to speed away from whoever rolled this dangerous thing into the middle of the highway. To get home safely. It could have been an excellent example of the results of giving into terror, but I’m not going to even get into what will happen to the entire country if they evacuate us from here. The nature of a heavenly promise is that it feels like a mother embracing her son, loving him, showering him with all of the goodness in the world. She doesn’t love him because he’s a vital asset, nor because he’s strategically important to her continuing safety. I tried to share here a bit of what moves me about the valley, of what I experience as a strong, enveloping hug from God, a hug that says: this is what life feels like when each person is under his grapevine and under his fig tree. This place is really, truly yours.
When I pushed down on the gas after the burning fire, I simply wanted to get home, and to stay there for eternity, in peace.
Thank You for sharing an encounter with home.Comment