Elster's World

Monday, January 02, 2006

She Calls...And I Cannot Answer

A couple of quick hits before I get to the post:

- The New York Jets’ 2005 campaign mercifully came to an end this past Sunday with a 31-26 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Readers beware, a post-mortem of the season will be coming up with in the next week or so, like it or not.

- Somehow, Anysara’s (http://chossonhunt.blogspot.com/) blog failed to get a nod in any category in the awards discussed in last week’s post. Well, she’s getting the last laugh. She’s engaged. Mazal Tov to Anysara and her newly found Soulmate. May they share nothing but happiness and all the good stuff. Isn’t that better than a blogger’s award anyway? Look forward to hearing about future good stuff in your lives guys.

Now onto the post:

I remember my first trip to Israel like it was yesterday. In reality, it was almost 20 years ago. As I write those words, I find myself breaking into a cold sweat. Am I really thirty-two years old? Was it really 19 years ago that my family boarded a KLM flight to Israel for my Bar Mitzvah present?

I remember the highlights. My dad closed his office for three weeks in August and we split time between the Laromme Hotel and my cousin’s empty apartment in Ramot Bet. What a special trip it was. How could anyone’s first trip to Israel not be? Sure, I was too young to really appreciate many of the finer points (the Diaspora Museum was the most painful three hours of my young life to that point). And sure, the last week was a bit, er, marred by a first-timer’s water-drinking incident. But even so, Israel is Israel and much like learning Torah, you can get something out of it on many different levels.

Of course, time marched on and I made many, many more trips back. We visited my sister during her year there and I went as a camper on a summer tour. I went during college break. I went for a year and a half to learn. I went back as a counselor on the same summer tour I had been a camper on years before. I went back so often during college and law school, that my during intersession of my second year of law school, my friend Evan and I ditched our regular Israel posse (sorry Donny) and decided to go to Miami for break instead (and no, I don’t regret that decision – I have never played so much golf in my life).

When the posse graduated law school and our legal jobs were bearing down on us like an out-of-control eighteen wheeler, Donny and I postponed our work start dates by a month and went to Israel to spend Yom Kippur and Succos with our friend Steven, who was a Madrich in a yeshiva in the Old City. It was in many respects the end of innocence for me. I was about to start working, I was already engaged (and yes, I did take a lot of heat for ditching the future Mrs. Elster for 3 weeks but it was oh so worth it) and my carefree student life was about to come to a spectacular and permanent halt. Those three weeks, living within a stone’s throw (no pun intended) of the Kotel, were an experience beyond my wildest dreams.

That was over seven years ago. I have been back one time since then. Mrs. Elster and I spent a glorious two weeks in the Holy Land five and a half years ago. Every time I think about the last time I was there, I always feel like it was just two or three years ago. But then I remember that it has been too long since I have rested my forehead on the Western Wall and poured out my heart to G-d. It has been too long since I have looked off across an expanse of desert and wondered if, perhaps Avraham or Yaacov traveled there.

I have had so many great times, made so many wonderful friends, that it would take columns and columns to recount them here. The good times, the learning, the shwarma, new friends made, old friends lost, independence found, my first time drunk (Purim), Succos, water hikes – I have a story for every occasion. Who doesn’t?

And so, every once and a while, Israel calls to me, tells me to return. And the feeling grows stronger and stronger until it is an almost physical ache. But there is no cure for it. I can’t go now. The kids are too young for a 12-hour flight, and it’s too expensive to take them anyway. It’s too time consuming, I can’t get than kind of time off from work.

So all that I have for the time being are the memories. And I use them to combat the empty feeling that right now, Israel is even farther away than the 6,000 actual miles that separates me from her holy borders. And I cling to the belief that soon I will be able to go as often and for as long as I would like. But until then, the memories and the desire to return fight a never ending battle in my mind.

Either way, she calls to me now and I only hope to answer that call.


  • Elster, you are making me so homesick for Israel! It has been 2 1/2 years since I have been there, and I feel it every day. Hope you will be able to make a trip soon...wondering now whether I know some of the other names you mention other than E.K....will probably drive me crazy trying to figure it out for the rest of the day...

    By Blogger MC Aryeh, at 7:41 AM  

  • Well, MC, part of the fun is the guessing. 2.5 years - it's been 5.5 years for me and counting.

    By Blogger Elster, at 12:00 PM  

  • Your post made me miss Israel as well. I can't go for similar reaosns you mentioned: kids, my school, my wife's work. But like you say, it calls to me. Hopefully soon we can all go to stay.

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 3:55 PM  

  • Hey Jewboy, thatnks for visiting.

    Yes, I kinda felt sad so I figured I might as well ruin everyone else's day as well.

    By Blogger Elster, at 5:29 PM  

  • Yes, it's sad. But it's also a good thing that you have these feelings for the Holy Land.

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 9:05 PM  

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