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Danita Aziza and her husband, Michel.


By Danita Aziza, August 23, 2010

Just about half way through my flight from Toronto to Tel Aviv last week I developed that deep pit in the stomach kind of feeling.  It seemed to come from nowhere, but perhaps the onset could be the result of a few solitary and stationary hours without conversation or interruption.  There is something about being on the move all the time, such as we have been the past two months, that prevents you from actually thinking about anything  other than what you need to purchase that is lightweight enough to pack, who you need to arrange lunch with and who is going to be upset because you didn’t have enough time to visit or be in touch.

I think it was just over the Atlantic that the realization struck hard that we are, in fact, truly starting a new chapter of life in Israel.  Somewhat ironic given the date was almost exactly two years from when we first landed in the country anxious to begin what was to be a one year sabbatical.  I can only speak for myself when I say that for the past two years I have felt like I was straddling two worlds with neither foot planted solidly on the ground in either Canada or Israel.  While I knew in my heart that Israel was most likely going to be a more permanent place of residence in the long run, there was something comforting in knowing that I still maintained a street address in Winnipeg.

I got off the airplane in Tel Aviv no longer possessing a Canadian permanent address and if I didn’t entirely “get it” before, retrieving nine suitcases from the carousel was a weighty reminder that I’m here for much more than a few weeks post bar mitzvah tour.  How does that feel?  Well, I guess it feels about right.
Last week, just in time for our return, Newsweek magazine released the results of a survey ranking Israel 22nd out of 100 best countries in which to live.  That’s pretty awesome considering the fact that the country faces enormous security concerns, rising poverty rates and divisions among the country’s diverse populations many of whom have been absorbed over the last 62 years of the State’s existence.   The fact that, in comparison,  Canada received a seventh place ranking hasn’t deterred me from thinking that Michel and I made the right decision to establish our home here and based on what I’ve experienced during the past two years (ups and downs included), I wouldn’t rather be living in Canada at this point in my life.

Strong Zionistic ideology aside, I have to say that while I was taught from youth onward that living in Canada was a not just luck of birth, but also a privilege, I feel that the opportunities for quality of life and personal growth for me are greater here than there.  When you live somewhere that’s so comfortable you tend to get too comfortable and take things for granted and refrain from challenging yourself beyond the normal life challenges that are thrown your way.  In Israel, however, I feel challenged on a daily if not sometimes, on an hourly basis.

I’ve learned a lot, aside from Hebrew, over the past two years.  Much of the knowledge I’ve acquired has to do with the history of the land and the people that inhabit it and then there is a whole other level of learning that has taken place that is much less tangible, but has a great deal to do with personal growth and development.  As a person who was always adverse to change, I’ve learned to deal with change and to not be so frightened of it and, to a certain extent, embrace it.  I’ve experienced a level of spirituality that was otherwise absent or guised by my own set of rules for religious practices. I plug away at keeping these rules when it is too easy to cast them aside saying it is enough that I live in Israel and therefore don’t need to be reminded of my “Jewishness” nor committed to the rules that are a part of a traditional Jewish life.

As for the future, I’m learning from Israelis that you build and plan for it like you’ll live forever, but don’t expend too much time thinking about it, for it can change in an instant.  I know that with Tali happily engaged in long term study here and Benji soon to undertake military service, we’re committed to supporting them with our presence here while attempting to make as much a contribution to the country as we can in whatever way we can.    With aging parents behind in Canada we join a number of olim [new immigrants] who have to grapple with feelings of being so far removed from the daily life of parents who are supportive, yet no doubt miss having children and grandchildren close by.

As for today--the heat outside is almost unbearable, the car had a dead battery and a flat tire upon our return, Rocky the dog came back from his extended stay at the kennel with a terribly upset stomach and although the road outside our rented townhouse promised to be paved by now, is still filled with pebbles and construction debris. When I lived in Canada those very things would have sent me into a tizzy even possibly ruined my day and yet, I remain calm, (relatively speaking) and go about dealing with them in a fashion that I’ve only developed as of late.   It is good to be back home learning, contemplating and living life.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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