Saturday, July 5, 2014

An Israeli in New York II

Having gained many insights and life experiences my first 26 years as an American, I am certainly grateful for the gift that is My Idealized United States. Coincidentally, Raphaela and I arrived to New York Erev July Fourth, and we celebrated with my cousins and their close circle of friends at a lovely barbecue leading into an entire weekend spent with friends and family.

Clearly, however, after 17 years as an Israeli citizen, I have lost that spirit and  emotional response to the American way of life, I most definitely think like an Israeli.  Somehow, with the daily threat to our existence from our Arab neighbors, and with the relative youth of our country, Israeli Independence Day is celebrated similarly in the physical sense - meat and beer and fireworks - and much more enthusiastically in the rememberence of the founding of the State of Israel.  Every year that we have not been nuked or otherwise wiped out of existence is testament to our survival and stubbornness.  We are staying put despite the cultures and individuals working against us, so shut down the stores and open Israeli BBQ season. Chag Sameach!*

So this year, the first time I have celebrated the American  Fourth in many years, I felt distant and almost unimpressed.  Many people here have little sense or appreciation for their history and continued existence.  And this is no longer my holiday, my possession of a US passport is more a formality and less an emotional attachment.

I am an Israeli in my head and in my heart, and that evolution of my life provides sacred pause on this trip.

[Chag Sameach = Happy holidays in Hebrew, normally reserved for the religious events in the Jewish calendar]

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