After about two months of being in different halachic seasonal zones, I'm glad to be back in sync (as of this past Sunday) with my Israeli brethren as they and we, here in chu"l (outside the Land), all pray for "tal u'matar livracha" (blessed dew and rainfall). The technical details are beyond the scope of this blog post but weather is important when it comes to remembering Jerusalem.
Every morning, I check the weather app on my phone for my local forecast - and Jerusalem's. Occasionally, they're the same and that starts my day with a great big "Woo Hoo!". I walk out the door, close my eyes and imagine myself in the sun, rain or snow of the holy city. Having Israel's weather info at my fingertips makes me feel connected, whether or not our temps are in tune. And at this time of year, a dry report for Jerusalem reminds me to say a prayer for Israel's much-needed rainfall.
Several months ago, a friend in Israel told me that she was preparing a lecture for a group of young adults who would soon be returning to the States after their extended stays as foreign students. They were sad to be leaving and wanted some advice on how to keep Israel in the forefront of their minds from so far away.
Aside from the weather app, I suggested the following:
- Leave a personal item behind. (Not my idea but I don't remember who to credit.) Knowing that something of yours is still back Home - and will be there for you when you return - is a great way to feel connected. You can do that on your next visit, too. I still "own" the cellphone number that was ours when we lived in Israel. I could probably save some shekels by giving it up but the "connection" is worth more than shekels can buy. So I'll keep the number for now, whether or not I'll actually use it the next time I'm in Israel.
- Have a designated makome tefillah (prayer spot) in your house and "decorate" it to remind you of Home. Here's mine:
- Celebrate a special day or Jewish holiday "Israeli-style". Chumus, dips, soft drinks, chocolate, crackers, wines.... There are so many Israeli products on the shelves of your local supermarket. Look for them, buy them, eat and enjoy them - especially those produced by companies in the "settlements", whether the package says so or not.
- Sign up online for Arutz-7, the Jerusalem Post, even Ha'Aretz! You're just not going to get the whole story on anything "Israel" from the mainstream U.S. media, whether they call themselves liberal, conservative or something else entirely.
Still feeling far away? Me, too. But tonight and every night of these eight days of Chanuka, I'll be keeping my pey-dreidel* close,
Meanwhile, Happy Chanuka wishes from our house to yours. Whether your weather is wonderful or not, may the Chanuka flames warm your heart and your soul, brighten every dampened spirit and lighten every load.
* For the full pey-dreidel story, go to "blog archives" on the right, click on 2009 and read "The Land of Po - Revisted".