Elster's World

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Israel Bug

This post was inspired by Jameel’s latest and greatest:

When I was younger, fresh off of a year and a half studying in Israel, it seemed as though the “Aretz” would always be there whenever I needed it. After all, I was young, had all the free time I could ever want, and I have four or five years of school in front of me – meaning there were four or five winter breaks, spring breaks and summers to get there. Life was good.

And oh, did I take advantage. Over those five years or so, I must have gone eight or so times (too lazy to actually think of the number) including six weeks there in one summer as a camp tour leader. Whenever the Israel bug bite, off I went. Honestly, it got to the point where I was so “sick” of going to Israel, I flaked on a winter break trip there my third year of law school in exchange for a week in sunny Miami with my friend Evan.

But time certainly has a way of getting away from you, doesn’t it?. After I graduated law school, I got married and started my law job (not necessarily in that order). Time (and money) got a little tighter (damn you Riverdale rentals). Mrs. Elster and I took a majorly kick arse vacation there the summer we were pregnant with my daughter (she kicked for the first time in the Holy Land) - two weeks of such bliss, that I forgot (completely unintentionally, I promise) to even call into work one time over those two weeks. Not one time.

But then, the dry spell.

Work responsibilities piled up, making longer vacations more difficult. We had a second child. We bought a house (damn you mortgage companies and real estate tax collectors), we had a third kid. Now we are barely breaking even. There is no way I can take the whole family to Israel – the flights alone would cost me over five thousand dollars. Besides, we always said that we wouldn’t take the kids on such an expensive (and lengthy) trip until they were old enough to appreciate it. And my oldest is less than six (probably still too young for it).

Exacerbating the problem – the Israel bug has bitten me hard lately. So hard, that I find myself scheming all kinds of ways to go. I could just go myself or we can leave the kids and go for a short week (nixed by Mrs. Elster, who refuses to leave the kids for extended periods of time). Oh and Mrs. Elster isn’t thrilled with me taking a trip solo either.

So where, then, does that leave me?

Truth is, I have no idea. I really want to go. It’s almost a physical ache if you get me. I have not been to beloved Israel for seven years. I have not laid my forehead on the Kotel. I have not spend a few days regenerating at the Dead Sea. I have not taken a spiritual journey to Sefat or a fun-filled board walk stroll in Tibereas. There was a time in my life where it would have been laughable to suggest I go more than twelve months without a visit. Now it’s been exactly eighty four months. Gulp.

Sometimes in my life, I want things of importance, but I have no idea how to acquire them. I dwell on them, they depress the hell out of me and then I eventually get over them. The bigger things, though, keep coming back. Maybe they take a break from torturing me, but they always return with a vengeance, dropping me into bigger funks than the time before.

I cannot remember having the Israel bug so bad in a long time. I can only hope that I get an opportunity to scratch.


  • Elster: I really understand how you feel...I didn't want to be at YU, but at Bar Ilan...it was a very difficult time for me.

    Yearning is the key.

    By Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata, at 12:40 PM  

  • I have always thought that there was something wrong with me. I never had any desire to go to Israel moreso than any other place. This held true until about four weeks ago. Something about the pictures coming out on different blogs of the beauty in northern Israel really got to me. Now I desperately want to go at a time when we really can't for various reasons.

    By Blogger AnySara, at 12:51 PM  

  • Jameel/AS - I have been pretty much jittering around every time I think about it too much, so I try to ficus on not thinking abuot it. At some point, in the not too distant future, I will have to figure out a way to make this happen.

    By Blogger Elster, at 1:14 PM  

  • You shouldn't not think about it, in my opinion...You know it's the right thing to do and you know you're going to figure out a way to do it sometime, so why not make that time sooner? Just a thought...

    By Blogger SS, at 6:19 PM  

  • The homeland is calling come back to me now.we are all connected very much to our roots whatever they may be.it just means that deep down there is a mighty connection. tap into it...

    By Blogger skepticbentorah, at 9:16 PM  

  • You didn't hearit, but I just let out a big sigh. For me it has been three years and 2 months since I was last in HaAretz. I also feel it now more than ever.

    Not checking in with your job even once? Well, that actually made me smile...

    By Blogger MC Aryeh, at 4:26 AM  

  • " the flights alone would cost me over five thousand dollars"

    No, it wouldn't. You could go for around $3000 total, just not for succos, pesach, in the summer, or around Christmas-New Year's. In fact, Israir recently had flights for under $700 with tax. The baby would cost around $200.

    " we always said that we wouldn’t take the kids on such an expensive (and lengthy) trip until they were old enough to appreciate it"

    Maybe you can make one exception after seven years.

    "my oldest is less than six (probably still too young for it)."

    I still rememeber my family's 1979 trip to Israel when I was six. So you'd probably only be blowing the money on your second child. And you wouldn't be blowing it anyway - my 20 month old son has been to Israel twice, and aren't the parents' experience and memories of the time in Israel with the kids worth something?

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 6:50 AM  

  • Joe - All valid points. The one factor you are not taking into account is my wife :)

    Mc - I remembered the last Friday there - we were leaving Sat night and I was starting work again that Monday. At that point I basically said screw it, can't do anything about it now anyway. I wasn't fired.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:15 AM  

  • Maybe explain to your wife that it's cheaper to go now, when your youngest flies for 80 percent off.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 2:54 PM  

  • It was 1998 and the ache is physical. There is a piece of me that has never come home and I know that it never will.

    By Blogger Jack's Shack, at 1:16 AM  

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