I would get red as a tomato when the nurse called my name at the doctor’s office, brutally mispronouncing it (I’m pretty sure some of those nurses were legally illiterate), and I would cry when the stupid little boys in my class–who i revered so much just for being boys–would tease me and call me yi-FAT. I hated introducing myself and even worse, spelling my name out to someone new.
Now, just so you understand, I was a scrawny little kid…there was absolutely no reason for me to be ashamed, aside from the fact that my name was different and weird.
I hated my parents with all my guts for giving me such a stupid name, devoid of all sense and reason. Didn’t they know that in order to get around in the real world, I would need a NORMAL name. I mean, I was thankful they didn’t name me Shai Weener (yes, I actually know a kid named Shai Weener), but still! And not to mention, everywhere I went–with the name “Yifat Hadas Kadosh”–people would know exactly who I was.
My name shouts to the entire world that I am a Jew.
…And I was unbearably ashamed of it.
Only upon coming to Israel did I for once feel normal.
This country celebrated my holidays! It revolved around my world. Now, I’m not coming from an egocentric perspective, but simply from the notion that for a “wandering Jew,” it feels SO GOOD to finally come home.
I am my forefathers; I live in exile, as they did, and once I finally made it back to the promised land, I realized what I had been missing that entire time. Our bible, and, in fact, our entire culture revolves around this crazy, desolate, astonishingly-magnificent land regrettably placed possibly on the worst real-estate–literally in the middle of a warzone. What is so damn amazing about it that actually manages to maintain 2000 year’s worth of constant conflict, then??
From a Jewish perspective, it’s the fact that all our history is here. It’s headquarters for the Jewish people; it’s the one place you can go and without a doubt always run into someone you share blood with (besides Brooklyn, obviously).
I actually feel included here, like I’m a part of something bigger. When I see the cranes up in the sky, crowding the skyline and warning of another building’s reign, I get excited and think to myself, “I get the privilege of seeing it all be built.” When I learn in class about our Jewish ancestry–about how my father’s father came here on his own by ship/foot/train, and how both my father and mother fought in the Israeli army–I feel totally included, and I feel inclined to give back.
It’s such a small world here, and it’s such a young country. In order to build it up, everyone’s gotta give a little, then.
And in fact we have, making us “the start-up nation” and a leader in many categories (which I definitely won’t be able to name off the top of my head right now…)
All in all, when I’m here, facing the rest of the world seems no challenge. Because I’m involved and proud. And ultimately, that’s what allowed this great nation–and now nearly 66-year-old country–to survive for so long.