I am travelling to the United States on a short visit to my family. It is only for two weeks but I am experiencing quite a bit of angst. (no comment on its relation to visiting family). I am not a relaxed traveller so it is not unusual for me to be anxious, but this is something different.
Before we moved here, I would cry when the plane took off from Ben Gurion. Since everyone in the family knows (and now you do too) that I am a white knuckle flier, it has always been chalked up to my usual nerves. But the truth is, it is not about flying. It is about the deep melancholy I feel when leaving the country.
I left in 1974 vowing that I would return within the year. Of course, it took much longer to actually return for a visit and even longer to move back. Perhaps it is that sadness that I feel - the possibility of being separated for a long time.
When Jews move to Israel it is called Aliyah - "going up" - spiritually. When travelling to Jerusalem from anywhere else in the country it is also called Aliyah. This is both physical and spiritual. When you drive any of the roads into the city you can feel the ascent. The air is clearer and there is a very real sense that the destination is in fact "higher" than the valleys and cities below.
For many people this is a fancifull idea. But I actually feel it. And when we descend from Jerusalem it is both a let down and a relief. Back in secular land, so to speak.
The title of this post is יורדת מהארץ and it means descending from Israel. In modern Hebrew it also means emigration. I am not emigrating but I feel the pull downward and I know when the plane takes off I will be sad and feel that I am stepping down from someplace very special.
This connection with the land is very real. All our holidays are both religious and deeply rooted in the cycle of the seasons and the geo-topography. Perhaps this in part the reason I am so attached to my בוסתן ("boustan", beautiful place - garden - verdant area). I have a few small olive trees, a rather descent sized palm, a lemon and orange tree and many many other plants. I worry over them and I take great delight in watching them grow.
As we prepare to leave I have cleaned out all the dead leaves and left instruction for watering the plants if the rain does not continue.
I will be fine when we land in New York. The city has a way of overriding everything else. I will go to all my old haunts, eat some very good food and maybe some not very good for you, food. Israel will seem unreal. My garden something that only exists in my imagination.
So to guard our home and our children and the plants I have employed a new small talisman. We already have the bases covered on the Jewish side - מזוזות, מנורות, חמסות (mezzuzah, menorah, humsa). I decided based on deep irrational superstition, that I needed a garden gnome - an undeniably pagan fetish.
I hope it proves effective or at the very least entertaining for Sami.
I am looking forward to going בחו׳ל (abroad). And very much looking forward to seeing my family. I will have a few drinks on the plane to dampen the anxiety but the sadness will be there until I return.