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What Does "Home" Mean to You?

Posted on 07/25/2010 @ 07:10 PM

Tags: PDI

PDI Israel


By Malki Karkowsky, New England Region Program Director


For many, the word conjures up special smells, tastes and feelings. We think of our families and friends, holidays, and fitting in. As i embark on my second week away from home, my heart aches a little. I am lucky to have so many positive emotional connections with my home.

Today, though, we found out that the word can be more fraught with other meanings.

Our bus made the arduous journey from Tel Aviv to Tzippori, a moshav (neighborhood for Jewish collective living) in the Galilee. While there, we had the wonderful opportunity to go to our educator's home. We walked onto her yard, filled with beautiful fig trees. We even got to pick some and eat them straight off of the tree. Afterwards she welcomed us to a beautiful house, with snacks, drinks and a home far cozier than all of our hotels.

We were honored to have the opportunity to speak to Ido Ya'acovi, a recently retired fighter pilot who also used to direct the fighter pilot training program. In addition to an interesting conversation that gave us insight into the rigors and thought that go into the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), Ido took some time to tell us why he lived on the Moshav. He spoke of the deep Jewish and agricultural roots that he has with the land. He spoke of his father who served in the army and fought to protect Ido and his nine siblings and how Ido did the same thing for his six children. Israel is his home and he will do that which is in his power to protect it and keep it safe.

Soon afterward, Roberta, our educator told us about how she came to Tzippori and why. Like Ido, it was clear that she is overwhelmed by the deep connection the Jews have with the area. To illustrate her point, we went on to the Tzippori ruins and learned all about the life the Jews used to live there.

It was clear that the Jewish community lived a vibrant and rich life there - the area is mid-point between the Mediteranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee. During the time of the Romans, the Jews lived at peace with Romans in order to survive. It was a good thing they did - Tzippori was the place where Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi (Judah the Prince) wrote the Mishna. The Mishna is one of the most important Jewish texts (it's a compilation of all the different Jewish laws that the Jews needed to know about since the Temple was destroyed). The ruins were beautiful and Roberta (our educator) connected with their Jewishness and their antiquity; it was clear both were what helped her want to call Tzippori home.

After a few more fresh figs from Roberta's trees, we left for Nazareth where we met Amin, a Palestinian who grew up in Tzuffiyeh (the Arabic name for Tzippori). During the Israeli Independence War, Amin had to leave Tzuffiyeh for fear of his life, and has lived in Nazareth ever since.

Our meeting with him gave us another perspective on Roberta and Ido's home. Amin believes that he grew up in Tzippori. It was his home and he deserves to go back to the land he loves and 'owns'. He told us he is fine with Jews living there too, but, very simply, he wants to go home.

I left Nazareth thinking about the concept of home. I have two now. The one where I live with my soon to be husband and the one where I grew up and where my parents currently live. As much as I love my parents' house, especially for visits during the Jewish holidays (Sukkot and Pesach are my two personal favorites), I have a new home.

We as Americans are not nearly as rooted as our brothers and sisters in Israel (including Ido, Roberta and Amin) We often feel comfortable moving for educational opportunities, professional opportunities or love. That concept is much more foreign in Israel; today's itinerary made clear that roots and connections run deep.

As I begin to create a home, I am struck by how complicated it can be deciding on where to live, how to raise a family and how to set a place as the setting to my life. But, those decisions seem simple, almost pedestrian when I look at the 'home' that many Israelis- Jews and Arabs, have to work on.

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