By Adina Karpuj
The sun is warming my back, a cool breeze runs through my hair, and I daydream about the transformation that awaits me a mere 24 hours ahead; tomorrow, I will volunteer to become a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces.
I stare at the magnets plastered on the refrigerator in my guest room on Kibbutz Be’eri, a community four kilometers (2½ miles) from the Gaza border, and I mistakenly read the directions for what to do in case of “Qassam rockets” as “Kessem rockets,” rockets of magic. Honestly, the latter seems more fitting.
It is hard to find a word to summarize the 4½ months since I made aliyah. It has been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences, but “magical” seems to sum them up.
Receiving my teudat zehut (Israeli identification card) has come to symbolize an invitation of opportunity: an opportunity to become a part of our people’s 2,000-year dream and an opportunity to take a leap of faith into the unknown and embrace all of the challenges and freedoms in a land whose desert and people bloom.
While 12 years of Jewish day school education worked to mold me into the person I am today, this move has taught me more about myself, my people, my country and the world than I could have ever imagined.
As our newsreels depict an Israel whose future is uncertain — a reality that seems inevitable — I come to know and integrate myself into a thriving, multicultural society.
Our day to day is not illustrated by the terror that floods our phone notifications, but rather by the fleeting instances of magic that color the streets:
- The women on my train, one in a hijab, the other in a sheitl (wig), who laugh about their common workplace mishaps.
- The gentle elderly man, the one whose wrinkles mirror the cracks in the Jerusalem stone on which he has sown his journey’s seeds, who offers me a discount and a boyfriend in the same instant before he closes his shop for Shabbat.
- Adam, Yazin, Mikayl and Rivka, the Jewish and Arab children I tutor, who dream of a world where their friendship isn’t as rare as their reality.
Don’t be fooled. This transition hasn’t been all roses, and just as with any major decision, life has presented me with questions that have no answers. And yet, time and time again, I am reminded of the unique opportunity I have to draw the lines rather than color them in, to be a protagonist in the story of this country’s ripe existence rather than a sideline spectator.
As the atmosphere of Shabbat descends upon this extraordinary place each Friday evening, I am once again invited to witness the miracle of a nation whose existence — no doubt challenging yet beautiful — defies all odds.
Adina Karpuj, the daughter of Congregation Or Hadash Rabbis Analia Bortz and Mario Karpuj, made aliyah from Sandy Springs in August. If you are considering aliyah, Nefesh B’Nefesh is holding a planning workshop at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, at the DoubleTree Hotel, 2061 North Druid Hills Road, Atlanta; www.nbn.org.il/atlanta.