January 4th is a sad day in my mind. For many of you it is a day of no significance, but for me it is a sad day on the Calendar. You see, January 4th, 1994 was the last time I set foot in Israel. From Sept. 1992 until that day (with a ten week gap in between) I lived in Israel. While many students who spent the year in Israel, say they studied there for a year, I say I lived there because, in my mind, I truly did. For 16 months I became (at least partially) Israeli. I spoke Hebrew every chance I could - even in the Anglo-speaking neighborhoods; I taught Hebrew and Yehadut to Ethiopian immigrants, I met people from all walks of life, I even spent a week on a farm in Gaza picking tomatoes alongside olim from the FSU, Ethiopia and migrant workers from Thailand.
Everywhere I went from Yesha to Herziliya, from Eilat to the Golan , I loved every minute. I was determined to make Aliyah, and yes I was well aware of the consequences of making Aliyah alone, that serving as a Hayal Boded was not 'cool', but difficult, that once my parents stopped sending cash, it would not be as fun. And yet, here I am, almost 14 years to the day after I left and I haven't been back.
Recently, I've been talking to several friends of mine who are contemplating Aliyah (including some that are going this summer!) while it hasn't quite brought back an immediate desire to jump on a plane and relocate my entire family, it does make me more and more aware of the long gap since I've been there. I really want to go, and I really want to take my wife and my sons and bring them there. To bring them to all of the places that have special meaning to me, and to the new places I've yet to see. To show them how wonderful a country Israel really is - despite its government and the morons around the world who say otherwise.
When I lived in Israel, I wrote a poem about the thoughts of Aliyah that danced in my head. While I don't know whatever happened to the poem, the crux was that I had a difficult choice to make between my two hearts - one being the American lifestyle, and the other being the land of me and my people. I pined in the poem that it is difficult to choose from among two hearts, and while I've made my decision to remain in Galut, I definitely think I owe it to myself, my wife and my kids to pay my other heart a visit.