My wife Marcia and I have been in Jerusalem for three and one half days. After leaving the Greenville, South Carolina area where we had lived the previous five years, we now have an apartment in Talbiyah (within walking distance of the ancient walled city, the King Solomon Hotel and, according to our map, Herod’s tomb). We also have a bank account, Israeli cell phones, our dog, Penn_E (who’s forgiven us for hauling her 7,000 miles in a crate), immigrant papers, Israeli ID’s and blisters.
The question we are asked most often regarding the move is…“Why?”? Or one of several variants beginning, “Why on earth…?” But the question regarding the move that we liked best, coming from a disinterested third party, was “Is that wise?”
A fair question.
When asked I smiled and answered “I don’t know” not from second thoughts but because we never considered the move in that context. If we’d been asked if the move seemed natural or important…yes. A bit scary? Yes. Bittersweet because we were about to limit our access to wonderful family and friends, yes. But wise…?
Now, having had time to think about it, I would answer “Yes” if asked that question again. If it is wise to listen carefully, to embrace a sense of adventure, to assign hopefulness at least as much weight as fear, then yes, moving to the uncertainty of Jerusalem from the relative stability of Upstate South Carolina makes good sense, especially for, and to, a Jew.
Regardless of how valuable one considers the Bible it is interesting to note that today Jews from all over the world are “returning” to Israel (in increasing numbers from the US) regardless of how unwise it may seem and exactly as foretold by so many Hebrew prophets. For example, around 2,700 years ago Isaiah prophesied, “…and you shall be gathered, one by one, people of Isra’el.” (27:12) and about 130 years later Jeremiah added “So don’t be afraid…for I will return you from far away and your offspring from their country of exile…For I am with you to save you.” (30:10,11)
There are many more. Micah, Ezekiel, Joel… all revealing a clear vision of the restoration of Israel (non-existent for 1700 years) and the return of a remnant from “the ends of the earth.”
Three years ago, my citing scripture was probably more unlikely than our living in Israel today. I’ve been an atheist, skeptic, deist and theist. I’ve studied Zen. I fought a long, stubborn battle resisting this moment but it appears that God, despite my best efforts (and exactly as he promised through the prophets) has, just the same, returned me from far away.
We remain amazed. And, yes, regardless of what happens next we would have to say the move was wise.
I will update this blog from time to time as time allows. We have language lessons and all kinds of interaction with the government on the immediate horizon. Then job hunting.
Here is a 5-minute video of our 21-hour (plus) trip from Charlotte to Jerusalem.