יום שלישי, 26 בפברואר 2013

It's not about you... That's all about people around you

For a long time, whenever I asked people to describe me, they'd quickly say: "Oh girl, you're inteligent." As much as I felt flattered by it, it was also kind of hard hearing to this. Does it mean that all I was, was just being a walking encyclopedia? I started to worry about what kind of person I might be... feeling-wise, let's say. I got quite unsatisfied that people would get to know me and leave with the impression that I was not much more than someone with much knowledge, but few more than that.  Than I decided to add a little bit more of a heart to all this brain-powered human being.

But how should I start? I had no idea! What would/should I do? I had no idea, but I knew that something was missing in my life. Then the Operation Pillar of Defense started. My country was under attack. Living in Jerusalem, you get much less of the stress than the people who live down south and by the border. But even tthough your life is affected and I felt it to be even more affected when Jerusalem itself was attacked. 'Miss Hildebrandt, what could you do?' The only things I really know how to do are: teaching, cooking and baking. Well, I dediced that it had to be enough to start with. If the only thing I knew how to do to help out other people was baking, then this was what I would be doing.

And I cannnot explain here how thankful I am for my decision! I started a volunteer project in which on a weekly basis (unless I really cannot) I bake around 20 medium-sized challot. Nowadays my friends know that I have a very important appointment on Thursday evenings. I stay up until late night baking. 'Now what, Miss Hildebrandt'?, you'll ask. 'You and many other people bake on Thrusday evening for Shabat.' Yes, I know it. But the reason I bake is because on Friday morning I take all these chalot to the Lone Soldier Center, here in Jerusalem, and they're given out to soldiers from all over the world who are in Israel to serve in the army. Their whole time is dedicated to keep my country safe and running. So I dedicate some of my time to make them happy.

The Brayilian poet Paulo Leminski once wrote that "The pain always knocks on our doors, but it only hurts if it's ours." In my case, I needed two visits to bomb shelters to realise that I could do more for the soldiers than just praying for them. And I'm really extremely happy to let you know that last Friday I baked around 80 to 90 Hamantaschen, that were delivered on Friday at the Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center. I really hope that the soldiers were at least half as happy by eating the Hamantaschen as I was by baking them.

By the way, do you already know the amazing lifestory of Michael Levin and the Lone Soldier Center that received his name? Not yet? Check it out on http://lonesoldiercenter.com/

יום חמישי, 14 בפברואר 2013

Shana Rishona Ba'aretz - the impressions of my first year in Israel

On Feb. 14, 2012, I was stuck somewhere at Charles de Gaulle Airport, waiting for my plane to Tel Aviv to take off. Right there... At the moment... That was when I really made Alyiah. I'm still going through all the bureacracy of what the State of Israel defines as Alyiah. But in a certain aspect I am an Olah, someone who went up to the Holy Land of Israel. To me the Exile is over. And I knew it even when I was sitting there, in Paris, looking at the men davening Maariv in an aisle, before they'd get into the airplane. In a very misterious way, I knew that the flight from Rio to Paris was just normal stuff, but the connection Paris-Tel Aviv would change my life forever. And it did!

I'm still pretty much the same person though. I mean... How can you be the same after leave your hometown to rebuild your life in a land that is at once geographically so far away and emotionally so close? Tough question? I don't think so. There are some parts of you that need the exact environment to develop. They may remain for years there, with you, on a stand-by mode. But they'll only unfold when you give them the right conditions for it to grow. And, in essence, I was always a weird sort of an Israeli. And that's why I could never fit any other place and I've always felt that something was missing.

I have had the merit to live enough to experience something that so many people before me couldn't and still many of my contemporaries still cannot afford (and by afford I don't mean financially, or not only... I mean being away from family, friends, from the places where you grew up). It's not easy being at Home while you are away from your house. It's Divine to live in Israel, not magical. I don't try to say that from the moment you land at Ben Gurion Airpor it will click for you that this is your place. Much more probably you'll be introduced to the very (un)kind Israelis Customs Office agents. It's still kind mind-boggling how I'm finally at my Eternal Home, but because life's not perfect and it's not a Disney movie either, I still don't have a steady address and my family name isn't on any door or mailbox.

I also quite don't understand what made me so meritorious as to be here, and to make it through to the challenge that is to settle and to dwell on the Land that G'd swore to give to Avraham, Ytschak and Yaakov. But I tell you... I'm getting the best of it. Usually when we live longer than your forebearers had the chance to, you may take two different attitudes. Either you get worried that your time might be over soon or you start to wonder how much more you could accomplish and start to dedicate them all the things you now have time and opportunity to do that your ancestors didn't have in their lifetime. I'm neither that old nor can I remember of having any relative who died that young. But in a certain aspect I lived to see and to experience that too many of them would be just a dream. A jewish state? A viable/ sustainable jewish state? Take your time machine, go back in time, tell that the Jewish people finally went back to there land and built a country that is a jewel of the Middle East... You'll be arrested! And it'll not be because of your time travel. People simply won't believe what you are telling them.

Israel makes you to understand what faith really means. Otherwise, how would someone leave everything behind to get settled in a country that is as small as the state of New Jersey/USA, surrounded by bewildered enemies and where the cost of living make its citizens protest and occupy the streets (yes, the "Occupy 'anywhere'" movement started in Tel Aviv), and where people speak a lot, write and read also a lot "on the other hand". How could you explain the settlers at Judea And Samaria? And all the people, that just like me, dream with the day when Eretz Israel and the State of Israel will be the same thing and we will no more be accused of occupying what is ours by right. It's an astonishing level of faith in the promise that G'd made to Avraham that He would give all this land to Avraham's seed.

And the land is amazing. What? Wait... Am I trying to say that a small tiny country, where the desert covers 60% of its surface, is a-m-a-z-i-n-g? Did I go nuts? It's exactly what I tell you. Israel blossoms in so many ways that it's even unfair to say that the most impressive thing in this country is that we can produce food at the Negev desert (not to mention the incredible goods that were once produced in our settlements in Gaza).When Technion, up there in Haifa, produces high level technology, isn't it that Israel is blooming? When we rebuild our houses in Judea and Samaria, isn't it thriving? When Sderot endures even under constant rocket attack, isn't it that Israel is blooming? It involves a lot of hard work, struggle and personal strength to "exist" in this country. But we have a Higher Iron Dome and a another Rosh HaMemshalah bashamaim, that makes sure that everything down here goes smoothly crazy.  Israel is a reality that we have to build everyday. It's a country permanently under construction, that changes and moves forward. And it's simply wonderful to have the chance to be a part of it. Well, now you know how I feel after one year living in the LAND OF ISRAEL.

With His Help, next week: a little bit more about my chessed project (how do you translate "chessed project"? let's call it volunteer project). And all the story behind it. Stay tuned for more Israeli vibe.