Last night as I tried to get comfortable on a Turkish Airlines non-stop full-steam ahead Amsterdam-Johannesburg flight (unsuccessful) I realized that I was looking forward to going home. Home being a word of shifting connotations post-marriage. Kind of like the words ‘I’, now interchanged with ‘us’ and the term ‘me’ often becoming replaced with ‘we’.
Home all of a sudden is in Johannesburg, whereas before we tied the knot-my home was where my family lived-in Jerusalem. Wherever it was I took myself, I always knew that I would eventually make it back to the source where Mom, Dad, Eliana and Avital (my two phenomenal sisters) were waiting for me. Now, after being home with my family over the Passover holidays I was on the return component of my itinerary. I now have two homes, and they play separate but unique roles. In my Jerusalem home, the love and craziness of being a family reigns. In my Johannesburg home, I have time and space to focus on my dreams and to play in the sacred silence of the life the new ‘we’ are in the process of creating. It is all about balance.
Our time in Jerusalem was a whirlwind of holiday energy, full of depth and challenges and confronting moments. Israel has a funny way of bringing everything to the surface, like a pressure cooker full of cholent. Heavy yet rich and satisfying with a tantalizing aroma and a bit of spice. Ephraim and I spent time reconnecting with the people that are dear to us and to our own souls, reclaiming our places as Jews within a nation of living Judaism and finding our spiritual voices again.
Israel through my new Johannesburg lenses was a stark contrast between life in Jewish South Africa, where the Jews represent a small but strong minority. We realized that although the pull to return to our Jerusalem home is gaining in momentum, South Africa is currently where our now shared destiny is pulling us on an exciting path of creativity and growth. When people asked us when we are coming home to Jerusalem I smiled and thought ‘just now’ a South African term of reference which can mean anything from: ‘in a few hours’ to ‘someday soon’.
We had an amazing adventure in Amsterdam en route home. We spent the days pounding the pavements oooing and ahhing over the old Dutch architecture and the canals and the evenings enjoying the city nightlife. I have always loved Amsterdam, but this trip was the first time since moving to South Africa that I had visited and it was even more interesting than ever before. The Dutch were the first ‘whities’ to arrive in South Africa, when the Dutch East India company sailed into Cape Town in 1652 establishing a refueling stop (aka the old-school 7/11). Many employees decided to leave the company and become pioneers- coining themselves the ‘chosen people’. This started the era of the ‘great trek’ where the Dutch halutzim made their way up the country, colonizing as they went along. Afrikaans, or ‘baby Dutch’ as it is sometimes called sounds a lot like the real thing and the bits of the dialect I have managed to pick up here helped me get by in Amsterdam as I actually understood bits of small talk like hello, good morning and thank you.
Both of our journeys this trip were homecomings of sorts-back into the bastion of the modern Jewish people and a visit to Amsterdam where it all began for cross-cultural South Africa. After the royal wedding and the announcement that O.B.L had been killed the first piece of news on the radio in the cab back from the airport was a report on the days high-jacking and fast car chase shootout in Greenstone.
And then a few hours later, another story of a high-jacking shootout in Glenhazel, or the Jewish ghetto as the neighborhood is known here. And then three more stories today emerged from the ‘what we missed while we were away’ news brief, all involving police and their miserable ‘shoot to kill’ policy- three innocent people shot/beaten dead by the people sworn to protect them.
It’s taking me a bit of time to make the switch back to vigilante after a very carefree holiday, but it’s coming. I’m back in gangsters paradise behind our walls and barbed wire armed with my trustworthy night time panic button, with the faith that our angels will protect us here at the bottom of Africa. Transitioning as well out of the outward focus of our time away and turning back towards each other. I will miss waking up in the morning and leaving by foot to explore the city, running spontaneously into old friends and having unexpected adventures. Life between South Africa and the rest of the world is another kind of balance- that of being able to turn inwards again-where the greatest adventures lie.