Born, raised and educated in Israel, in a typical Jewish home, I really thought that the concept of Jewish identity was something that begins and ends in Israel.
Yes, Diaspora Jewry is important, but the real deal is what’s happening in Israel.
Then, almost two years ago, a job offer landed on our doorstep for my dear husband, and we decided to bravely accept it, despite our apprehensions and fears. We felt that it was a sign from heaven that we were being called to set out on this new journey. We felt that now was the time to leave everything familiar and comfortable in order to embark on a new path.
Kansas City, USA, was the destination.
Fast forward to a few months later…and we found ourselves in the Diaspora.
As people who felt deeply rooted to the soil of the land of Israel, it wasn’t easy. But we felt that this journey was determined for us from above, and that we were being summoned to leave the comfortable, easy and pleasant life that we were accustomed to living in order to tackle this adventure.
The amazing thing is that when you’re living your regular, routine life, you don’t really understand how deeply you’re stuck in it, and how hard it is to change that routine, even when not everything about it is perfect.
The truth is that during the first months, even though we did miss Israel, we were flying high. Despite being shocked by the fact that everyone around me was non-Jewish, America – how should I put it – is gorgeous! The size, the abundance! An indescribable abundance of material things…of every type.
At first, it’s blinding and exciting, but after a few months of trips, shopping, and never a dull moment, we started to calm down a little. It was then that I started to ask myself a lot of questions about my identity, about who I am, about the choices I make and why I make them.
Who is really in charge of everything? Why was I specifically chosen to be here right now? Where is God in all of this? I understood that God sent me to a spiritual desert, and that the only way to survive in this imaginary abundance was to find my true self.
I slowly got aboard a train that took me on a long ride around the nooks and crannies of my soul…checking and clarifying and continuously asking questions.
I understood that I am here in order to discover who I really am, more precisely than ever.
I am meant to understand that my Jewish identity doesn’t start and end with the place that I came from, the home I grew up in, or the sector in which I was raised. There are deeper levels to my soul. This amazing opportunity was given to me specifically here, in a foreign country – so I could rise above my habits and my nature, and to turn worlds upside down.
I started studying Jewish psychology – contemplating life according to the Jewish sources, healing the soul based on the Jewish sources – in short, finding the answers to my questions. The search for the true “me” caused me to understand and sharpen my perception of my purpose in the world and the feeling that I have a mission to fulfill.
I have been a stylist for years, helping women choose their clothing and feel more beautiful and happier. I’ve been involved in fashion productions and more. The same effect that relocation had on me mentally came through in my professional life too. I started to develop and expand my knowledge of styling.
A fashion week here, another fashion production there.
Working at what I do best.
I understood that my soul needed the distance from everything that I am accustomed to so that I could have the quiet to concentrate on myself and on what truly nourishes my soul.
And my journey is still going strong.
As I came closer to myself, I discovered entire worlds that I had never seen before, in terms of my perception of Diaspora Jewry. I met an entire world of people, of Jews! Jews who are so thirsty to come close to their heritage, to religion, to a taste of the Jewish spirit and soul. Outside of Israel, they do it in all sorts of ways that are not always in sync with the Jewish identity that I grew up with at home. But all the same, it expresses such sweetness and such love for the Jewish nation…it expresses their strong desire to belong.
This discovery swept me off my feet and reinforced my understanding of the special role that the Jewish nation plays around the world.
I’ve realized that often, we need to be plucked from our natural setting in order to experience big things.
I’m still on the journey. It’s definitely not over.
Maybe our entire lives are in fact a journey…
To everyone who is contemplating, I say - go for it! There’s nothing like leaving your comfort zone. The opportunities are endless…