However, when I think about Israel, I find myself thinkg, "home". That's how I felt in May 1988 when I landed for the first time at Ben Gurion airport with mum and Lucy. I was 11 years old and I felt like I had just got home. I was and still am a secular but slightly traditional Jew (Friday night candles and dinner, shopping on Saturday - you know the type) who at age 11 had had some experience of Jewish youth groups (Habonim Dror, YJNF) so had a vague notion of Zionism. The overriding feeling of being in Israel for me though was that I never had to explain to anyone about being Jewish - something I must've felt the need to do a lot at my 'other home' in Leeds, I guess. In short I loved it. Even the extreme sunstroke on Day 5 on an Egged Tour to the north couldn't diminish the hugely emotional response I had to being in Israel at such a young age.
|An Egged Tours bus - not a good place to have sunstroke, eh Lucy?|
I visited Israel twice more before I turned 18, another family holiday (with dad this time) and an FZY leadership course in 1994. I got the chance to stay (briefly) with an Israeli family in Nazrat Illit, with another family on a moshav in the Galil (shout out to Hazon!) and on a kibbutz near Eilat. This was another side to Israeli life, far removed from the hotels and restaurants of Tel Aviv that I'd experienced up to that point. I loved it.
In 1995 I started my degree in Jewish History at UCL and began to learn Ivrit. Then I spent my third year at the Rothberg School at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. With each passing day I felt more and more like I was somewhere I truly belonged, even though living in Jerusalem could be tense in ways I couldn't really have imagined living in London (the Ben Yehuda triple suicide bomb exploded just 3 weeks into my time there). Although I'd begun my degree thinking I'd be focusing on Holocaust history, I took more Israeli-based courses in my final year and continued to complete an MA in Modern Israeli Studies.
|The view from Mt Scopus, where I studied at the Hebrew U for a year - VERY hard to leave that place...|
Since completing my teacher training in 2002, I've lost count of the number of times I've returned to Israel to see friends and family and in 2004 after a week in Herzliyya and returning to a rain sodden Brighton and losing my camera (I was soooo pissed off about that) I asked my headmaster if I could take a sabbatical, with the intention of making Aliyah and teaching in Israel.
Things moved quickly after that.
Headmaster said 'Yes'!! - how amazing! I could go and make Aliyah and my job would be waiting for me if after a year I decided to return!
I went on a date with an Israeli guy called Mark who lived in Brighton.
We got on - I mean we REALLY got on...
I changed my mind.
(I didn't want to leave you Mark, after I just found you!! :-))
Did I wuss out? No, we really knew we were going to be together and we both wanted to be in Israel in the future - Mark just needed to make his chiropractic fortune first ( - the only way to make a small fortune in Israel is to go with a big one in the wise words of my husband) and so began the Five Year Plan. Yes, I know that 2004 is 6 years ago, but that's the beauty of the FYP - it changes to suit your circumstances :) We officially started counting again at the beginning of 2007 when we opened the clinic in Hove so we should be in Israel for 2011 but really it'll be 2012 (I told him I gotta get out before the Olympics!)