The Old New Land

Sometimes, outside forces narrow your choices in life. A few months after I returned to the U.S. from Israel, I decided I wanted to return to the Holy Land. After reconnecting with my family, I felt a little pull bringing me closer towards staying in D.C. And after dealing with some mental health challenges that made moving abroad again a bad idea, I realized that for the time being, I was going to be back in the U.S. for a while.

But the thought remained in my mind- maybe I’d make it back to live in Israel.

And then COVID hit with a vengeance. And nobody was going anywhere. There was wave one, wave two, wave- who knows what wave we’re on now to be honest. Besides profoundly rocking my faith in the traditional sense of God (after all- who in the Heavens would allow millions of innocent people to die?), it made me rooted in a new place. To paraphrase Theodore Herzl, an old new place. After all, I am from Washington, D.C., so much like the Zionist pioneers who rediscovered their “old new land”, I found myself re-engaging with the very place from which I had left.

And then something curious, even hopeful happened. In the midst of the pandemic and during its ebbs and flows, I made new friends and reconnected with some old ones. I joined a gay Jewish kickball team. I started organizing a language exchange. I met new colleagues. I celebrated holidays with family. And I missed Israel for so many things. And not for others. I had found an old new home. And honestly, it felt good.

I had planted new roots in the place I least expected. The place I needed space from, only to come back to and appreciate even more.

I am profoundly eager to visit Israel and see my friends there. And it looks like it might be a few more months before I can safely revisit that idea, which I had hoped to make happen this February. Eyzeh basah, as they say in Hebrew. What a drag.

In the meantime, I’m going to live my best life in Washington, D.C. That’s home. Who knows what the future holds (let’s be real- if we get another blowhard in the White House I might be reaching for my Israeli passport). But this is where I am today and where I want to be. With friends and family abounding.

I’ve missed writing over the past few months. And I plan to use this space to write about a variety of topics – yes, Israel. But also America. The world. Jewish life. Culture. Diversity. Politics. Anything that can keep our souls sustained and nurtured during this challenging time.

My original premise of the blog was to plant roots in Israel to bear fruits. And they absolutely bore fruits. It’s now time to let some old new soil nurture them and see what interesting tasty delights they will produce. Join me on this new journey!

The cover photo is a pic of me and “Theodore Herzl” at Tel Aviv’s Israeli Independence Day festivities

Author: Matt Adler - מטע אדלר

A compassionate multilingual Jewish explorer. Author of "More Than Just Hummus: A Gay Jew Discovers Israel in Arabic": & Join me on my journeys by reading my blog or following me on Facebook May you find some beauty in your day today. :)

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