Lean on Me

Even when you have something good, you don't always realize how good it really is.

When Trip'n Daddy and I were looking for a community for our first year in Israel, we knew one thing:

We were definitely NOT going to be moving to Neve Daniel.

We had a myriad of reasons for this, including:
  1. We were not interested in living over the "Green Line." After Gush Katif, we were nervous. You invest so much in building a home and one day the government can just take it away. There had been so much instability in our life already and Aliyah was another upheaval. When we put down roots, we wanted to feel 1000% secure. (Ironically, some of the communities we were considering are well within missile range of Gaza. Their kids have been out of school for days due to the latest escalation and have even been brought here to the Gush to get away from the tension. See: Gush Etzion Welcomes Children from South
  2. We wanted time to learn more about yishuv life before we chose one, if we chose to live on one at all.  As a couple, we tended to be homebodies and somewhat private. The close living and the tight-knit communities that make up most yishuvim made us nervous. Certainly, we were going to try to find one that felt less like a bungalow colony and more like a small town. 
  3. We wanted to choose a community that really represented us and our values. If we were going to live on a yishuv, it had to be the right yishuv for us. The only way for us to really learn that would be by doing research from within Israel. We knew we had to take our time to really feel comfortable with a commitment on that level. 
  4. We loved AM and UM to death, and would theoretically follow them to the ends of the earth, but Israel was far enough.  They were living in Neve Daniel for 5 years already. When we lived in the same communities as them in the US, we always felt that we were living in their shadow.  They had children first and kids are a major inroad to making friends in any community. I have spent my whole life being "UM's sister."  Also, AM is one of those people who knows everyone and has a lot of friends.  They were so established in Neve Daniel, we felt we couldn't establish ourselves, as ourselves. 
Then the world turned upside down.  One day we are looking at rentals in Modiin, the next day Trip'n Daddy is in Shaarei Tzedek ICU in a medically induced coma, intubated and on a ventilator. 

Priorities change in an instant. Suddenly, there was no "we." There was just me. I now had to make decisions based on a whole different set of variables. 
  1. Where were my kids going to have the support system they needed? Where would there be many loving adults to make up for the one who was gone? 
  2. Where was I going to have the support I needed? What if I can't be home in time for the kids? Need a night out? A Mommy Getaway? 
  3. Without a father to help teach them our values and how to live a Torah lifestyle, I now needed a community of men who will watch out for them and be examples to them. 
  4. Most of all, being close to AM and UM was no longer a question, it was imperative.  Forget living in their shadow. I needed them just to be able to live. 
Neve Daniel more than answered the call. During Trip'n Daddy's entire illness, through the weeks of shlepping back and forth to the hospital, helping get the kids settled in school, and finding a place for us to live - they were there. When Trip'n Daddy passed away, it was 3 men from Neve Daniel, only ONE of whom had actually met him in person, that went to be shomrim for him in the cold Jerusalem night. His levaya was packed. Yes, many were my family or Twitpacha (friends from Twitter), but most were from Neve Daniel. The shiva house was constantly filled with people who had never met me, or him, but were there because we needed them. This includes the men who came to the shiva minyanim even though there was no mourner who was obligated in Kaddish. 

There was absolutely no question. We were staying in Neve Daniel. THIS was the place we needed. THESE were the people I needed to be with.There have been many times over the past months when the people of Neve Daniel have proven this to me. I thank Hashem daily for putting me here and helping me find this place.  

Last night, I had a moment when it hit me. How good it really is. 

My birthday was last week and I knew it was going to be hard. I was dreading it. So, I decided to take the bull by the horns and since it was the week of Purim, turn it on its head. Forget dreading it - I was going to celebrate it! 

AM and I hatched a plan where we would gather as many ladies as we could and head into Jerusalem for Off the Wall Comedy Basement's Women's Only Karaoke Night. Neither of us had ever karaokied before and it sounded like a great time.  Also, the admission was reasonable (15₪, with 10₪ going towards your first drink.) Here was the best part, we were going to invite everyone! I felt there was no way to know who else needed a night out and I wanted everyone to feel like they could come. So we created a Facebook event where I invited every woman in Israel who is my friend on Facebook and AM sent out an email on the Neve Daniel list. 

We headed out expecting about 20 ladies to join us. Some of the Twitpacha, some family, but mostly Neve Daniel women.  Here's the thing, I knew there were going to be some coming just to get out, some really to sing, and some just to be there for me. What I didn't realize was every last one of them, from Savta, to AM, to the ones that I just officially met for the first time last night, were going to build me up and give me that moment.

The song choices ran from fun (Twist and Shout, Daydream Believer) to empowering (my choices of I Will Survive and Hit Me With Your Best Shot, RESPECT), surprising (ladies in sheitels singing Rolling in the Deep?) and even the absurd (America from West Side Story, and did you know Mamma Mia makes Savta cry?)

Some amazing woman put Lean on Me on the list. The message of the song is clear and even blatantly obvious. Sure, I knew that everyone who was there would do anything for me if I just asked. They had all already proved that. They didn't need to tell me, I knew.  But as the song played, they held me, sang with me, swayed with me. Considering the magnitude of the changes in my life, I have never felt more warmth, more safe, more protected, more loved...more myself. 


rutimizrachi said...

I am so saddened by how you got here. But I am awed by the way G-d chooses our communities for us. Welcome Home, Mamaleh. Thank YOU for adding to our yishuv.

Baila said...

I thought about joining you (I love belting 'em out), but just couldn't get it together. I am so glad that you had a great time and that you are enveloped by so much love in your new life.

Rachel Greenberg said...

so glad you got our message from our song choices.... but also glad you knew it before we sang it. always here for you (& I had a blast - which I didn't even realize how much I needed it also)

Batya said...

I'm just getting to know you and want to give you a big hug all the way from Shiloh.

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