Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ten Year Anniversary

I gave up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the team Chiropractor for the Boston Bruins, in order to fulfill my dream of living and working in Israel.

Since moving here, I cheered as the NASA shuttle lifted off, carrying Israel's first astronaut, and mourned in shock as Ilan Ramon and his crew died upon their return. I have gone to Sinai on a vision quest, and scuba-ed in coral reefs in the Blue Hole. I have helped a patient through her pregnancy and have cried for that same baby girl, who was murdered by a Palestinian sniper. I have eaten at the table of an accomplished Israeli lawyer and her family, and have paid a shiva call when their 20 year old son died tragically and unnecessarily in an army training exercise, right before Passover. I have met friends for coffee at Cafe Hillel on Emek Refaim in the German Colony, the same place where a young bride was killed by a suicide bomber, the night before her wedding. I have gone to the open market at Mahane Yehuda and feasted - both visually and physically - on the array of colors and tastes and human encounters at the fruit and vegetable stands. I have waited in line with friends to snag tickets to the Sting concert in Tel Aviv.

Living here has allowed me to accomplish certain personal goals as well, I received my purple belt in karate; reconciled with my biological father, with whom I had lost contact for many years; had my first black and white photography exhibit, and recently finished writing the first draft of two books that have been floating around in my head for the last twenty years. The Type A woman I was, growing up in The City, has been replaced by a self-aware, relaxed person who is fun to be around.

I am continually amazed by the ability of the Israeli people to speak their mind - much like some New Yorkers I know - and to pull together when challenged. The rudest driver on any other occasion can place personal needs aside for the Greater Good, especially during periods of war.

I have also paid my dues to society, I serve on the Executive Board of the Israel Chiropractic Society, working toward the advancement and awareness of our profession in this country, and all of the Middle East. Once a month I walk around my neighborhood in a police uniform, carrying an M1 rifle that was manufactured before my mother was born, touring the area as a Civilian Guard. Last summer I served as a Chiropractor with my colleagues at the Maccabia, treating Jewish athletes of the highest calibre from all over the world. I am also a member of the Society for the Protection of Jerusalem street cats, and in fact inherited one of my rescues.

I arrived in Israel in 1997, single, with no family or support system, armed with idealism and a Phi Beta Kappa pin. I was so sure that my high levels of Hebrew and my desire to be a true Israeli would allow me a seamless immersion, that I would be accepted as a full member of this society. It took me six years to not be ashamed that most of my close friends were Anglo Saxons, that I much preferred reading the New York Times on line than plodding through the Hebrew papers; it was faster and took less effort. I realize also that dating Israeli men presented a particular challenge, with a tremendous gap in the dating culture. Stated simply, most English speaking men I know will treat me with respect and equality, in the way that I was raised.

I will openly admit that it has been a tumultuous ride, in 2001 at the start of the second Intifada I was almost killed by a sniper's bullet. And I will always speak Hebrew with an American accent. I am still single, and I am most ready to share my life with a spouse and become a mother. But I grew up in a Zionist home on the East Coast, any political discussion around my parents' or grandparents' table revolved around the Jewish State; which American presidential candidate was good for Israel, which Jewish charities were most worthwhile. It was most natural for me to move here, and it feels joyous to be able to celebrate ten years of this transition in my life.

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