Passover voyage home

In autumn (for whatever autumn is worth in this sun-flooded country) comes the nahlieli (wagtail), the high holidays and all those who seek spirituality in the holy land.

April 23, 2016 21:51
2 minute read.
Eagle migration to Israel

Eagle migration to Israel. (photo credit: AMIR BEN DOV)


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Bird migrations occur twice a year in Israel’s skies. One wave comes in the autumn and the other in spring. Interestingly enough, down on earth, yeshiva boys and seminary girls abide by the same pattern.

In autumn (for whatever autumn is worth in this sun-flooded country) comes the nahlieli (wagtail), the high holidays and all those who seek spirituality in the holy land.

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Now that spring is here, the snunit (swallow) appears, and away go all those yeshiva/seminary boys and girls from abroad, who have filled their psyches with Yidishkeit and Zionism and are now ready to return to their homes around the world.

Bird watchers know that the nahlieli and the snunit will return. But what about our Jewish youth? After reuniting with their families over the Passover break, will they choose to again break away from their comfort zone and return to a country under immediate threat of terrorist attacks, missile attacks and just ordinary harshness alien to their backgrounds? And if they do, is it because their parents payed for a whole-year program or is it for more altruistic reasons? And, if they do return, will they return the same? Will their stay at home shatter the delicate sprout they’ve been steadily working on day by day via learning in and experiencing Israel? Will their fresh view on life from their very first experience of independent life stay true and clear when challenged by those who stayed behind in the heavy air of galut (exile)? When they come back to Israel will there have been a dimming of those shiny eyes, always so lightened by pureness, by saturation with Jewish experience? Will they get engulfed in “reality” with family and friends during intense Passover vacation or, despite it all, will they return, determined and triumphant? “We’ve gone home for Passover” the returnees will say, or post online, or have written on their new T-shirts, “and survived.” Not just the two-Seder experience (which is a challenge in itself) but much, much more.

How I hope they maintain their enthusiasm. Their families might challenge them to balance their Israeli experience and values with what they consider to be “reality.”

What this really means is dialing down the fire they may have kindled in this intense country (Israel) to a degree that would be easier to control and to live with, when separated from its vital heartbeat, and settling back in their native country and its culture.

When seeing Israel from a distance, there seems to be a tendency to view it as an idea rather than an potential reality. However, all perspectives are an outcome of the standpoint from which they are viewed.


Waiting for our “birds” to come back, may they learn to be realistic, but even more, may they remain “Israelistic.” Amen.

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