Welcome…don’t stay too long

Posted on August 28, 2009

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A few months back an Israeli man walked into the patio of our synagogue. A small group of us were hanging out under the olive tree trying to get some shade. Our congregation’s BBQ had wrapped up, so we were just relaxing when he appeared and told us he was moving from Israel. He was trying to decide where to live. We suggested Long Beach, of course. That’s when he let on that his wife was with him, but she was waiting in the car. We invited them both to join us for the best Kosher BBQ this side of…Compton?

In the last few months I’ve gotten to know Eyal a bit. He has made a few business trips back from Israel trying generally get settled for life in Southern California. That means buying cars, renting a house, getting kids enrolled in school, bank accounts, and a lot of things we take for granted everyday.

Eyal and I have hit it off and I’m glad to have a new friend. But I just don’t want him to stick around too long. Part of me fears that he and his family will find the easy life here in our part of the world to hard to resist, and another Israeli family will have left Israel.

It’s easy for me to have this opinion as I’ve never lived in Israel, and I have only a romanticized notion of what it takes to live in a small country with less than welcoming neighbors, and an apparent (still needed??) affinity for socialism. Should I fear that Israelis coming to the States will ultimately make the country (Israel…not the U.S.!) weaker? Will it actually do so? I have to admit that I don’t know.  But given the unkind story told by history, having a strong Jewish homeland is important to me.  And given the effort made to help Jews move to Israel, it seems counter-productive when a family of five packs up and leaves Little Satan for the Big Daddy Satan.

As an aside:   Our friend Jolene is headed TO Israel.  She arrives on September 8th.  We can all watch her arrival (along with a plane full of other soon to be Israelis) live at http://www.nbn.org.il/live/ .  It’s a pretty amazing site to see.

So the natural question is “if you think that it’s so important to have Jews in Israel, why aren’t you there?”  And I don’t really have a good answer other than “I just didn’t think about it in time.”  And that’s probably not an entirely truthful answer either because I don’t know if I would have had the nerve to pack up and go.  I’d like to think I would have, but I’m still sitting here in the LBC worrying from afar about those who are leaving there for here.

So Eyal and family, I welcome you to Long Beach and look forward to spending time with you all.  I’m here for you.  Just make sure you don’t stick around too long.  Unless you want to.

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