I reluctantly admit that I should probably be calling it Sukkot by now, but that challenges my allegiance to family tradition. I can’t be fully Israeli, you know? Besides, I practically bargain on my groceries at this point, so I feel like I passed the Israeli test.
It was so beautiful to see all the preparations for the Yom Tov going on all around me. (These pictures are from the Sukkah Shuk [market] down the block from me.)
I made a little video for you of what it looked like: https://youtu.be/rJiJ3dXlp3A
Beginning the hour after the Yom Kippur fast ended, hammers were heard banging nails into soon-to-be Sukkahs. Everywhere I walked, I saw clusters of white cloth Sukkahs built on porches and in driveways. Esrogim (citrons) and Lulavim (palm branches) were carefully being inspected and purchased for the mitzva of shaking them each day of the holiday. (There’s so much to say on that- about unifying all types of Jews, and all types of people; about G-d supporting us from all directions, about the heart’s and soul’s and body’s desires all coming together to serve our creator…).
Chol Hamoed was honestly a bit lonely for me, because most of the country was on vacation, taking trips with family and friends, while I was still working in the office. However, I did spend a few hours one day at the Kosel, and then walked to the David Citadel museum. I couldn’t pinpoint if going to a museum alone for hours made me feel like an awesome nerd or just more lonely. It was bit disorienting, but I got to learn some fascinating facts about ancient and modern Israeli history.
Here’s what the Kosel, Western Wall, looked like on Chol Hamoed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIvZJG_rN6U
I spent the first day of Sukkos in Har Nof and the second day in Ramat Beit Shemesh, hanging out with my cousins. The chag ended quite suddenly, and I wasn’t ready to let it go, so I headed over to the free Shlomo Katz and Solomon Brother’s concert and danced the night away. It was the perfect event to help bring the celebratory atmosphere into the following week.
SO, big news! Starting this Monday, I’ll be attending full time college (7 classes a semester instead of the part time, 4 classes I was taking last year.) It just hit me one day, how long it would take to finish school at the rate I was going. I was also swimming in anxiety the whole month, thinking about how stressful the year would be, as last year was, with my days full booked and no time to breathe.
I tried my best to make a schedule that would be manageable and allow me to work part time and study full time, but, with my Israeli salary, it wasn’t going to cut it. It was then that I pretty much decided to do whatever it took to get through school without debt and in a normal period of time, as long as I was still taking care of my health.
And that’s how I landed here, with my packed bags in the living room, prepared to move next week to be a dorm counselor in a house for girls who grew up in religious homes, had some bad experiences, and just need help developing themselves and getting back on their feet. Two days ago, I told my boss that I’ll be leaving soon. I’ve been looking for a better paying part time job and exploring the option of studying (and then practicing) life coaching or beauty on the side.
It’s really hard to move again, having lived with my roommates for a year and a half already. Each time I have to, or choose to, pick up again, I feel the same emotions as I did when I made Aliyah. It felt right and good and beautiful and yet so unbearable and sad at the same time. The hardest part is leaving people behind. I’m working so hard on remaining open and staying with my feelings, and not just covering them with logic. I find it hard to stay so open and deep in relationships with people who I know I’m leaving, but closing up is really just my way of not facing the emotions at all.
Besides, it truly is an incredible opportunity to be a madricha (dorm counselor). My friend, Netania, actually helped put things into perspective for me, and her positivity prompted me to write a gratitude list, which I plan to hang on the wall in my new room.
The truth is, I am this grateful. Hashem knows how awesome this change will be, and as much as I crave stability, change is a lot of what living life fully is about. It’s self-discovery, and maintaining my truth despite the challenge. I’m positive that there are treasure houses of wisdom open to those who are willing to discover them within themselves.