With an emotional combination of sadness, excitement, hope and infinite appreciation, we packed up our house in Ra’anana and headed back to Needham with a lifetime of memories.
Highlights from the year include:
Mikey: I loved going to the Dead Sea and that I floated. I loved going to Masada. At Masada I had a beautiful view. It felt good that it was always hot and there are a lot of people in the army. I feel lucky that I got to go to Israel.
Allison: I loved going to Eilat, Masada, the Dead Sea and the North. I loved getting to go to the beach so often because in Needham we don’t live near a beach. I loved my school and all my friends. I’m glad I got to experience so many things there. I can’t wait to go back and wish I still lived there.
Jacob: There wasn’t just one highlight. I enjoyed Masada, Eilat and Mount Hermon. We did a lot of traveling and got to see so much of Israel. It was a really great experience to meet all the different kids from different cultures at my school. I learned a lot about Israel over the course of the year. I really figured out what my Jewish identity is. This was such a unique experience and will remember it for the rest of my life.
Danielle: Exploring Jerusalem and climbing Masada. Being together, as a family, in such a meaningful place. Making Israel our home. Immersing ourself in the community and feeling so welcome by everyone we met. And, of course, Orange Theory!
Gregg: Seeing Israel though our children’s eyes. Deepening our connection to Israel. Exploring and enjoying parts of Israel that are rarely experienced by tourists. Priceless family time.
Our year-long adventure far exceeded expectation. We believe we made the most of this opportunity and, reflecting back, wouldn’t change a thing.
Everyone settled back in faster and easier than expected. In some ways it feels like we lived there just yesterday. And in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. We still reflect on our Israel experience frequently as a family. We use the Kiddush cup every Friday night that we purchased while there. And we still occasionally find a lone shekel shaken loose in the washing machine.
But to say we’re “home” feels amiss. What does it mean to be home? Home can be a physical place. An address you list. A house you return to each day. Where you sleep at night.
Home is also a concept. An emotion. A state-of-mind. It’s being with your family in a place where you can comfortably be yourself. It means being together with a sense of safety and security. Home is a sense of belonging.
When friends and family ask us how it feels to be home, we’re sometimes unsure how to answer that. It feels great to be back in our own house. We cherish being reunited with our local friends and family. And we appreciate more than ever how lucky we are to live in this amazingly close and supportive Needham/Boston community.
It’s nice to be home.
We certainly miss living in Israel. We love that for nearly eleven months, we felt so at home in Israel, both physically and emotionally. We miss our lives there. But we also love and appreciate that we feel so at home here too.
More than anything, it forced us all to rethink our definition of “home” and what the concept of “being home” really means.
This experience provided each of us with a greater appreciation of family, friends, community, history, tradition, and more. But perhaps most importantly, we learned that regardless of where we live, it’s nice to be home.
Thank you for following our Blog and keeping up with our family adventure.
Michael, Allison, Jacob, Danielle and Gregg