Why the hell do you want to go THERE?

Today is Tu B'Shevat. Basically, it's the Jewish Arbor Day, for lack of a better description. I guess that means everything is about the celebration of new stuff. In our case, it's the beginning of what might possibly be the most indirect permanent vacation ever.

To make it short, we are planning our Aliyah. So now when those occasional pesky mamzerim wish to inform us on how "you Jews" should go "back to Israel" (although I've never actually heard this from someone without immigrant blood themselves) we can calmly explain how we are working towards this shared goal, and we are certainly trying, in full compliance with their wishes, to not let the door hit us in the ass on the way out.

Seriously. We are very well aware that the primary question most Americans we know will ask is "Why the hell do you want to go there?" Of course, there are quite a few reasons, but I think perhaps Matisyahu gave a good clue that fits with his song "So High, So Low":

When the time is right
I'll leave this place tonight
Just leave everything behind
It's time to face my life
We'll trail a path across that gap
Slap back through a crack in time
Is anyone on the other side
Seek and you might find

So high so low I don't know where but we got to got to go there
So high so low I don't know where but we got to got to go there got to go there

Why not give up buck up drop down why not lie down and never wake up give in Give up and don't get up give in to the ground who gives a
She is frozen in time behind the enemy lines in the night time she stares down The highway which way's the right way walking through this world on a tight Rope of memory the door swings both ways in and out in and outside so buckle Up it's gonna be a bumpy ride no
Its gonna be a bumpy ride no

So high so low I don't know where but we got to got to go there
So high so low I don't know where but we got to got to go there got to go there

I am searchin for the shade of the tree
Heard about it from a tune in the breeze
They say exists on the side of the road
But which road nobody was told (so lo)
All i know is i must find a road that leads where nobody goes (so lo)
Where i can roll down all the windows where the wind blows down those fears And foes (so hi)
So let go of the steering wheel let go let go (so lo)
All i know is i must find a road that leads where nobody goes
Let go of the steering wheel let go let go

So high so low I don't know where but we got to got to go there
So high so low I don't know where but we got to got to go there got to go there

Of course, these are not my words, they're all Matti's. But like a good Torah portion or any segment of wisdom, you just gotta share, so I snagged them from a lyrics server for your introspection.

Perhaps the first thing I can tell you is that I use my Hebrew name in my blog, not my English one. At some point, this name will become my legal name for a myriad of reasons, however for now it is just simpler this way.

I have three sons, the oldest has just became a teenager, and the youngest is 5 months old.

I currently have a good job, one that has no problem with my religion, that treats me very well, and provides us as a family with very good benefits and services. This is a precious gift that we are grateful for everyday. My previous job knew my wife was pregnant. Everything was fine until the last month, then they decided to change my schedule to work Shabbat. This was also an intentional move. I worked in a place that adheres to quite a few illegal practices, and the fact that it was now rumored I was a "dirty Jew" didn't help.

Except for one little thing. I had just received a good review, that I somehow had the intuition to copy to a storage offline from the company (with the original timestamp). So one night I leave work and receive the call that I have been fired.

They cut off our health insurance after exacting the following month's payment, so I lost a paid month of insurance that conveniently was supposed to cover my son's birth.

Facebook is such a nice tool. So are inside "double-agents" . It didn't take long to find out what happened and why, and they found the double and fired them, too.

This was the first time I ever knowingly lost a job over my faith. In America. But that is not why, it was simply a wake up call to start truly analyzing what is going on here, and what my family is careening towards.

We seem to have this idea here in America that everybody lives in broken down paper shacks except for us, and we don't because we are just so awesome. Many things are happening now that simply prove this is no longer the case.

In America, the constant claim is that we are free, but truly, we are not. We are told when to poke our kids with drugs and heavy metals. My oldest is a direct casualty of this process. We live on a street where we do not know the names of any of our neighbors. When I was a child, we knew everyone by name, most of their birthdays, and any good or bad news was shared amongst us all.

Neither I nor my wife can get this level of connection even from our extended families. And that was before they realized I was a Jew!

However, even that is not a reason why.

When I look at my three sons, I wonder what will become of them, what they will accomplish, or not accomplish in their lives.

I now have a teenager, a tween, and an infant.

My teenager is going to knock girls off their feet in a few years. It's the sephardic Syrian genes. However, thanks to the aforementioned mandatory vaccinations for Chickenpox (why the f**k would you vaccinate for chickenpox?) and the fact that he would not be allowed in school without them, he now thinks he's a bus. At least it sounds that way. I fully believe that this part can be overcome, but the educational system wants to keep him in a box rather than associate him with his actual peers. They did that at his former school, and we had a child that was perfectly normal by the end of last summer.

My  tween thinks he owns the world, and that we all owe him something, perhaps he desires obeisance. I know he isn't appearing to desire effort. Given what the system and his biological mother have put him through, he's right. But he lives under my roof, thus he is wrong. Currently, my tween has the ambition and drive of a Wal-Mart cart fetcher. All three of them are worth more than this, but the deck is stacked against them here.

I have a five month old. He does, in fact, run shit. Anyone with an infant knows this is how it works with infants.

But they have an additional hurdle that will never be overcome whether they are observant or not. They are Jews, and are so no matter what they do or say. I worry they will become hurt over something stupid. I worry about them with all of the superhuman abilities of a stereotypical Jewish mother. I worry, with a teenager, and another closely behind, that they will be conscripted into military service. This brings a whole new element into it.

I served with the US Army in the Persian Gulf War. I can tell you that not a single one of us went into that war to defend anyone's freedom. We went to secure oil so Americans could continue to drive their SUVs. We knew that, and if you look honestly at the situation, you know that is the honest truth. Now we are fighting in two war zones, and neither of them have the slightest thing to do with freedom, either. In Iraq, America contends to save oil for our use. In Afghanistan, we put oil executives in power to build an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. This is a matter of fact.

I fully support our American troops 150%, but the fact is that they are not protecting anyones' freedom, we both know that, and this is what makes it all the more pathetic.

When I see the pictures of dead soldiers, I am struck with the parental fear of having to identify one of my own children. It tears at me, humbles me, and scares the hell out of me.

If G-d forbid, I am forced to lose any of my children, or my own life, for that matter, I want it to be for a reason that is valid, not just to be some politician's or special interest's trash. I would prefer to not lose them at all. I can no longer guarantee this here in America.

Perhaps that is the morbid side of the coin. There are other reasons.

We consider ourselves Chabadniks, but in reality we teeter between Chabad and Renewal. I wear a kippot, which I have to hide or cover everywhere except for work. I wrap tefillin for morning prayers (most days), and attempt to regularly study whenever possible. My wife chooses to cover her head as well, and that gets us strange looks at the grocery store, sometimes dirty looks because they think we are muslim, I guess.

With our eating habits, we can't rationally keep kosher because a) very little here is in fact kosher b) with our recent past, especially the period on unemployment, we couldn't properly afford it. We are moving towards a place where a majority of foods are kosher, and the price not as much of a difficulty.

We are looking at moving to a place that is not just a residence, but is home. It seems very natural and perhaps born into the Jewish neshama to yearn for Israel, for that is our home, our people, and even with all of the threats around it, much more secure than being indefensible as the only Jewish family on the street, as well as one of the few Jewish families in our area.

 I'm not going to pretend that we are going to a happy fantasy land where the streets are paved with gold escalator sidewalks, we run a gauntlet of ass-kissing, and the rain is tasty chocolate syrup dripping from cotton candy clouds underneath which angry Pat Robertson clones bring us cold mint juleps on the beach.

That is hardly the reality.

Coffee, which I love, is very different there. The pay scale is lower. Mandatory military service in some capacity or another. Governments can change on a dime depending on the current seating arrangements in Knesset. There are familial tensions between Ashkenazi and Sephardi, observant and secular, Jews and everyone else. Rent is basically as painful as here. There are homeless. No frigging NHL. A whole new language that every Jew should know, but doesn't.

The plan is to move in 2013. But that is a generic plan, it could be sooner or later depending on finances, the political spectrum, whether Obama has helped Iran poke a big hole in the Middle East between Egypt and Lebanon or not. He now seems to be performing more heavy petting with world dictators than a loose cheerleader on prom night.

But I digress.

We will miss things about America. There are people we love and admire here. There are places special to us. But the thing that any Jew has to keep in their mind is that there were quite a few things that German and Polish Jews loved about their countries. But because of their countries, they are no longer able to tell us about them.

America didn't care about the Jew then. They don't now. And Rahm Emmanuel is hardly a litmus test.

I want to know who my neighbors are. I don't want to have to be afraid of the ice cream man being near my children. I don't want movies like "Saw", and the idiots that replicate everything they see in the movies and TV near my doorstep. Basically, I want our family to enjoy this life we have on our terms, no matter how much or how little we have. Here in the "American Dream", you are a sheep. Maybe if you're lucky, a Serta Sheep.

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