I like round numbers. They keep my life organized in neat, round bundles that circle backward or forward to some memorable moment in time.
In two weeks, our family will commemorate the 19th anniversary of our return to chu"l (chutz la'Aretz). That is, our return to living outside Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. Nineteen is not a round number but it's close enough to 20. The occasion is certainly no cause for celebration but a memorable moment nonetheless. With most anniversaries of this sort, time rounds out the sharp edges. This is a gift that G-d gives us to be able to circle forward. But often the circle doesn't quite close.
They are living in Afula - a city in the Lower Galil (Galilee) of Israel's Northern District. Their day begins with the crowing of the local roosters in a neighborhood that is peaceful and calm. There are some "Anglos" who have lived there for years and a sizeable group of American families scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks. There is a pizza store and an ice cream store (or maybe they are one and the same) and friendly people wherever they go.
When I'm not thinking about how much I'll miss them, I am filled with pride in my toshavim chozrim ("returning citizens" - as they are technically not olim chadashim, "new immigrants") and with gratitude for Hashem's kindness in allowing our family to come full circle - almost.
In a few months, my husband and I will celebrate 25 years since our own Aliyah, when we followed our dream to transplant our family in holy soil. Alas, it was not meant to be. But a nice, round quarter century later (quarters are round, right?), a branch of our family tree is beginning to take root there while the rest of us cheer them on until we can close the circle fully by joining them. May it be soon.
This coming Sunday we begin the three week period of mourning for our two Batei Mikdash (holy Temples). The fast day of Tisha b'Av (the ninth day of the month of Av, observed this year on Sunday, August 7) will mark the 1,953rd anniversary of the destruction of the Second Temple. Not a round number but close enough to 2,000. Nearly two millenia have made the longing great and the hope intense. Even as we thank G-d for the blessing of a flourishing, populated Homeland, we know we will not have come full circle until every one of us is Home to stay. Thank you, dear children, for bringing us all one step closer to closing the circle.