Feeling at home

The world goes on.

We savor happy occasions, and we suffer loss.

The world goes on.

Sometimes the two emotions sit side by side.

This weekend, my family celebrated my mother’s 80th birthday. We’ve all looked forward to it for months. We had a marvelous time, made all the sweeter by the fact that Mom hadn’t been feeling great but rallied (as is her usual style) and ruled the weekend like the queen that she is.

And I got one of my great joys – being “home” in Rhode Island – as a bonus part of the big occasion, since I would have gone anywhere to celebrate with my family. Being on the island where I grew up gives me a chance to decompress, to walk the beach, sit by the water, and take in the sights and sounds that helped make me who I am.

As we drove down the streets of my hometown, every time the ocean reappeared, shining in the winter sun, I would catch my breath and think to myself, “This is the familiar, the necessary, the thing that makes me feel right in the world.”

But at the same time, there was an ache in my heart.

Two more young men, this time sitting in a café in Tel Aviv, were murdered last Friday afternoon, including Shimon Ruimi from Ofakim, one of our partnership communities. The constant wave of attacks, by stabbing, car ramming, and gunfire over the last year seems to come closer and closer. As I saw the streets of Ofakim in the pages of Israeli newspapers online and in Facebook posts, I thought, “This is the familiar, the necessary, the place where I can breathe freely. Why must there be so much pain and loss?”

I read the words of my friends from across our partnership communities, who were in so much pain, yet still so determined to make life go on and to not allow this terror to consume them. So neither will we. We will continue to come to Israel in large numbers and on a regular basis. Our Birthright Israel trips are there now. And constant waves of visitors and missions are poised to begin and to run through the summer. Amir Shacham, our associate executive vice president for Global Connections, who has served as our executive shaliach for the last two and a half years, returns home to Israel this weekend and will immediately begin to greet staff members coming to Israel to connect with all of the terrific people and to see all of the important programs on the ground there.

As much as Greater MetroWest is where I live and am so proud to represent, parts of my heart are still in Rhode Island and in Israel. I hope to always feel joy in both places, but what I know is that they are where I will always feel at home, the places I feel are most familiar, most necessary, and where I feel most myself.

And in all of this talk of holding two emotions at the same time, I would be remiss if I didn't say how much we will miss having Amir and his wife Vered living here with us in New Jersey, but how happy we will be to visit them in Israel. I want to personally thank them for uprooting themselves a second time for our community to serve as emissaries between our family in Israel and our family here. We will continue to see them often, on both sides of the ocean, and I can't wait to spend more time on their beautiful terrace in Maccabim, overlooking the land we all hold so dear.

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