Coming to Israel is supposed to be an Aliyah. One would think it’s so simple. But it’s not. I have arrived and have never felt more of a need to define myself/ ourselves. What’s important and what’s not.
I became frum through Aish HaTorah. I went to Neve and Eyaht – and was by default in the chareidi system. If I stayed in Israel I would have married my black-hatted, Gemara, learning tzaddik. I would’ve lived in a chareidi neighborhood,and my kids would be sporting the latest bulletproof black stockings to school.
But I didn’t.
The tzaddik I married had never learned a day in his life in a yeshivah. However he had a keen desire to grow in yiddishkeit. I married him based on his potential, I took a chance.
Thank G-d my gamble paid off. Over the years my husband’s spirituality grew, as did the size of the family. And BH today we have five beautiful girls. My girls are not the run-of-the-mill Beit yaakov attendees. They are each in their own way full of personality, full of chein- and like their mother, are nonconformists. Not That I have not conformed. When I chose to become religious, I embraced the Torah and all its teachings. I believe it is our absolute blueprint to living our best lives. It is an instruction manual that we could never do without, and before I knowledged the existence of it and thought I could navigate this world without it, I was truly lost.
Once a person becomes religious, one realizes that there isn’t one way to being religious. They are so many sects of religious Judaism and even within the sects there are different nuances that’s classify you by the way you dress, by the way you cover your head,which yarmulke you choose to wear.
I felt the difference in the nuances living in Canada. Sending my girls to the ultimate religious school in the city-even if I didn’t necessarily fit their profile. I chose that school because perhaps the level of religiosity that they taught was a level above what we practice in Dress code alone. We wanted the girls to be taught to practice and to grow in spirituality to the highest of heights. The school we sent them to is classified as a chareidi school.
People who are not religious look at my family and think that we are ultra ultra orthodox. But truth be told we are definitely Orthodox, we are definitely observant, but what sets us apart from the rest of the crowd is that I don’t wear stockings and I wear open toe shoes in the summer. We also might watch the odd movie, and kids might be listening to non Jewish music. Due to this some kids wont come play at our house, and we are classified as “that family”.
But that being said, The school in Montreal accepted us with open arms, even if we didn’t fit their criteria perfectly. The community also embraced us – and we felt like valued members of it. We just felt like a round peg in a square hole. We didn’t fit.
So now here I am in Israel. I am finding that for the first time in my life I really have to define who I am. There can be no more gray areas. Everything has to be black-and-white.
To give an example of what I mean, Earl and I were at a meeting the other day. I was wearing a tichel, a long skirt and sandals. Earl was wearing shorts and a suede black kipa.
After a few minutes the woman asked us who we were. She was so confused as to the way we were dressed. Earls black kipa meant chareidi, but in shorts?
In Israel we fall into the CHARDAL category. Or the DATI TORANI section. Depending on my sock situation. Socks determined who I am.
To an extent I’m joking – but people are defined here by externalities.
When I first arrived here I was shocked I went to a pool – mixed swimming and I saw a lot of girls that go to frum schools in shorts and t shirts over bathing suits. Not particularly long tshirts, nor long sleeves nor long shorts for that matter. The only indication of frumness was the mothers in head coverings and daddy’s with yarmulkes.
Now to be comecompletely hypocritical, my family goes mixed swimming in Montreal. I don’t have voice which eliminates a lot of factors,and my girls and I swim in swimdresses.
Then the first shabbos I spent you was also confusing. I saw a lot of girls wearing skirts above-the-knee and sleeves above the elbow. I have also met lot of people that are disheartened about their yiddishkeit.
There is a lot of complaining and trying to make Israel North America. In RBS. So what I thought would be a very soft landing, is not quite so soft. The very Anglo community I think, detracts from living in Israel, and still idealizes living in America and American products.