September 6, 2007: The Wandering Jews

I have no home.

It’s not quite as bad as it sounds though. In fact, it’s quiet nice.

In Israel, we are always under-estimating time. When the government says that Jerusalem’s light rail system will be done next year, we hold back on the excitement. I doubt that the “separation fence” that was supposed to be completed several years ago will ever be done. And when the government promises political reform, holding our breath would be quiet dangerous.

We don’t really expect repairmen to come when they promise “next week.” “Next week” usually means “over the next few weeks.” And of course, I have already written about Bezek coming “definitely” by Thursday. And if not, then within a few days.

Time is just viewed differently here. When we got tired of being the first to show up to smachot, we asked a friend what time we should really come to his son’s Bar Mitzvah party, scheduled for 7:30. He told us to come by 8:30. Most of the other guests were there by 9:00.

So when our builder told us that our new house would be “completed” by August 1, we didn’t really believe him. And the truth is, it really is done. It just needs a little more paint…. And a little more electricity. And a little more ceramics. And a little kitchen. You get the picture.

So when August rolled around, we moved out of our house into… Neve Daniel.

We were pleased, but not shocked, when we ended up with multiple invitations to come stay with others while we waited for our house to be completed. Over the last two years, we have gotten used to the attitudes of people who choose to live “out here.” It takes a special person to want to live in the “West Bank” in an age when even our own government seems a bit ashamed of us living here. No, contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a violent extremist to live here. (I consider myself an extremist when it comes to bicycling and chocolate, but certainly not violence.)

If most people living in settlements are extremists, then we are extreme in our idealism. Despite the “situation” which every year seems to get a bit darker, people out here have high hopes for the future. It is extreme optimism that fuels the settler movement. There is a great willingness to put personal comfort behind national goals. Whether it means leaving family to do reserve duty or housing refugees from the North, there is a serious sense of obligation here.

People viewed helping us out no differently than they do baking a cake for the soldiers at the “pina chama” or buying challot from bakeries in Sderot. It’s the “how can we help” settler instinct. Without having to ask, we found ourselves with more than enough places to stay. Because it is clear that the future out here depends on what people are willing to do to help each other out, people are more than willing. It doesn’t matter whether that means giving someone a trempto Jerusalem or letting a temporarily homeless family stay in their home.

So my opening statement is wrong, we do have a home.

Our home is called Neve Daniel.

Leave a Reply