The other night, most of those who have made Aliya in the past couple of years gathered at the shul in the social hall for a nice evening of celebration. The majority present were celebrating their one year anniversary (like us) but there were those from previous years as well.
The evening was punctuated with a couple of speeches, I gave a brief dvar Torah, there was a live musical presentation, a comedian (who truly captured the essence of living in Israel) and a slide show of pictures taken during this past year (put together by Eric Solat). All in all, the evening was very enjoyable and--as the saying goes--a good time was had by all.
But, a couple of observations are in order. I was looking around the room and thought of two things: First, I knew almost every single person in the room and secondly, I knew almost none of them a little over a year ago. Why do I mention this? Because as I looked around the room, and I thought of how CLOSE so many of us have become, I was a bit overwhelmed. And then I thought of the "feeling" aspect as well. It FEELS like I have known so many of these families for my entire life. It feels like I know my neighbors and new-found friends for my entire life and it is strange to pause and realize that this is just not the case. I have known them for much LESS than my entire life.
And yet...there is a bond...there is a closeness that is hard to put into words. The feeling of going through so much TOGETHER...so many of the same experiences of being an immigrant to a country that until not long ago was just a distant dream. But by living the dream together and by experiencing many of the same events together...many have built a bond that is incredibly strong. While I have a LITTLE bit of family here (with whom I am indeed close), I do not have a LOT of family here. So, it is with great pride that I look at the members of our community and especially those with whom we have become so close and realize...they ARE a part of my family now and we are a part of their's.
Today is Shiva Asar B'Tammuz...a fast day in which we commemorate the breach in the walls of Jerusalem that led to the eventual destruction of the Bet HaMikdash. Since we arrived two days before Shiva Asar B'Tammuz last year, this is the second time we are now here for it. And as I look around my house and the neighborhood and the community, I see with my own eyes how much we have grown and how much we have accomplished in one year. Baruch Hashem...it has been a good year and B'ezrat Hashem, we look forward to many more years to come in this amazing community.