Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam


By Danita Aziza, Evan Yehuda Israel, June 17, 2010


During a short visit to Canada last summer, my daughter Rachel turned to me and said; “why don’t we stay in Canada?  It is so much easier here.  We know people, we feel comfortable, we speak the language and we know our way around.  And besides,” she continued, “we actually did more to help Israel when we lived here.”  Rachel’s comments were heartfelt and true, yet they caught me somewhat off guard and it took me a few moments to offer a response that would both acknowledge her feelings, yet justify our decision to remain in Israel at least for the time being.  “Easier is not necessarily better, Rachel”, was the reply that I recall uttering at the time.

As we prepare to leave Israel on Sunday for a two month trip to Canada, I feel I need to remind myself of my words to Rachel almost a year ago.  My mind is totally cluttered with all the mundane details that go into leaving our home and two dogs for such a stretch of time, packing, arranging stays in four Canadian cities to see family and friends and nagging the big kids to confirm their plans for the jobs that they will have in July and August.  However,  I do have to admit, that in the midst of all of the excitement, anticipation and activity,  I would be kidding myself if I didn’t feel slightly uneasy and nervous about sliding into old slippers so-to-speak upon returning to familiar territory and  my country of residence for most of my life.

When we left for Israel on August 6, 2008, our plan was to enjoy a sabbatical year and fulfill a long time dream of living in Israel, I truly believed that our stay would only be for a year, as evidenced by the fact that I brought limited clothing and left most of my favourite books behind.  Michel, on the other hand, packed every item of clothing he owned down to the last pair of socks and even thought to bring some photo albums and cherished knick knacks.   By February of last year I was feeling just a tad jealous that Michel had the luxury of choosing between a few sweatshirts whereas I was limited to a choice between either the grey hoodie or the grey hoodie. Actually it was around this time of sweatshirt wearing weather that we made the decision to extend our stay.

Our plan to return as a family to Canada last summer was usurped by a bit of a blip in Michel’s health and, as a result I travelled to Canada for a quick visit alone with the kids, happy to see everyone but anxious to return to both Israel  and my husband.   Michel was busy orchestrating our move to Even Yehuda and because we were going to be living in a different town and different home, I really was looking forward rather than backward and what I was leaving behind in my familiar part of the world.

This trip seems different.  We’re going for quite a bit of time and enough time to slide back into life in a way.  We’re going to spend time with parents, grandparents, siblings, nephews, cousins and friends and it will feel, hopefully, like one of those long Bar Mitzvah weekends when you exchange stories, laugh a lot and just enjoy time spent together.  We’re going to be away from Israel for long enough to realize what we miss about Canada, the ease of everyday life, a slower pace, and not the daily bombardment of security concerns, and knowledge of a host of problems that plague this country on a daily basis.  We’re going to be able to watch the news and understand what’s going on, and I truly can’t wait to get up in the morning and turn on the Today Show followed by The View.  I’m looking forward to rain and putting on a raincoat and seeing the earth soaked in glorious moisture, and to taking a shower without having to turn off the faucet when I put in the shampoo and conditioner.  I can hardly wait to walk into a store and not feel nervous that someone will ask me something and I won’t have a clue what they’re talking about.  I dream about mopping my floor with my old mop that never left streaks, and visiting the homes of family and friends that are the same as when we left, with everything in the same place.

I can’t wait to walk into the Rady JCC and run into so many people who I know and embrace people that I spent so much time with working on community issues.  I’m longing to go to shul, sit in my regular spot and listen to the Rabbi speak and be inspired by his message.   I can’t wait to not feel like I’m going to melt from the heat, and to sleep with the window open and drive without the air conditioning blowing in my face.  Ah yes, it is all within my grasp, so tempting and so unbelievably familiar and comfortable.

Last Sunday we went to an amateur production of Fiddler on the Roof.  The play was performed entirely in English and starred some very talented individuals who were North American olim, or at least that’s what their accents suggested.   I have probably seen either the stage play or movie more than a half a dozen times and am able to recite almost all of the lyrics to each and every song.  Perhaps due to age, slightly better focus due to Omega vitamins, or just from living here for the past 22 months, I gleaned more from Sholem Aleichem’s story than ever before. For me, it spoke volumes in terms of our need as a people to be united despite all of our differences in ideology and perspective, about the difficulty in maintaining faith and identity in a increasingly modern and technological world and, most important, how without a country to call our own, we face increasing threats of reverting to days gone by when we were isolated, expelled and so much worse. 

So while I eagerly anticipate all that this trip will hold and I can’t deny my excitement, I’m not rushing out the door overly anxious to leave Israel and the place that is becoming home.  I actually can’t imagine not returning, especially now when I have never believed more completely in the necessity of Israel’s existence not just in terms of historical and biblical right and Jewish survival, but also in terms of international stability and world order. I honestly feel that we’re needed here and while we have yet to totally define our contribution, I’m gaining more clarity of how we can find our place in a society that is so diverse and complex, yet held together by strong threads of commonality.

Life here is loaded with purpose and fulfillment and it is rich and dynamic and exciting and spontaneous.   There is the idyllic side of Israel with the beauty of nature, the clean transparency of the sea, the sophisticated culture of music, art, literature and theatre, and the vibrancy of innovative and successful industries.  This is juxtaposed against a poverty rate that is increasing at alarming speed, a declining educational system, growing rifts between various populations and daunting political and military challenges.  Life in Israel is certainly not always easy, most definitely not, but then again, as I must remind myself, easy doesn’t necessarily mean better.

I hope to be in touch from Canada in the next few weeks. Until then... L’hitraot.

<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Orthodox Union
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Coughlin Insurance Brokers
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Gislason Targownik
  • Raquel Dancho
  • Ross Eadie
  • James Teitsma
  • Janice Morley-Lecomte
  • Artista Homes
  • Fetching Style
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Chisick Family
  • Stringers Rentals
  • Winnipeg Beach Home Building Centre
  • KC Enterprises
  • John Wishnowski
  • JLS Construction
  • Ingrid Bennett
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • The Paper Fifrildi
  • Joanne Gullachsen Art
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Levene Tadman Golub
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Holiday Inn Polo Park
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Bridges for Peace
  • CVA Systems
  • Chochy's
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • Ambassador Mechanical
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • kristinas-greek
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.