I really should have anticipated this, shouldn't I have. I thought everyone was going to be asking about Resolution Number Five, and instead the eyes are on Resolution Number One. "Why do you want to move to Jerusalem?"
Honestly, that is a really good question. I have been asking myself that question a lot. Apart from the suffocating, hideously sky-high rents, the smog and the months of July and August, Tel Aviv is fantastic. Of course, everyone knows about the beach, the wealth of cultural events and that the city is conveniently located smack-dab in the middle of Israel's strongest job market. But there is more to like about Tel Aviv. By Israeli standards (which are, admittedly, not all that high), much of the city is reasonably clean, reasonably well run and offers a good system of public transportation. Even the smog is scheduled to improve; the number of sidewalks which have been widened to include a bike-path increases on what appears to be a daily basis. Best of all, I am not peppered with emails advertising events designed to help me to fix whatever is wrong with me so that I too will be worthy of a beschert. In fact, if the truth be told, not only is no one concerned with my marital status, no one is particularly concerned with me at all. I can wear whatever I want, eat whatever I want and do whatever I want and nobody cares or even notices. There is something very nice about this feeling of anonymity. As for the rents, I easily find something more affordable in Ramat Gan while still enjoying many of the benefits that Tel Aviv offers.
So why on earth would I want to leave all that for Jerusalem? I do not even like Jerusalem! How do I not love thee Jerusalem? Let me count the ways.
- The hideously sky-high rents
- The months of December, January and February.
- The nickname "the swamp" is appropriate, but should probably be applied to the entire damn city and not just Katamon.
- The incredibly shrinking Jerusalem secular community combined with the growing percentage of Jerusalem residents that appear to think that using the Taliban as a role-model in the area of community building is a good idea.
- Unless one is interested in working as a waitress or as a clerk at a store selling overpriced Judaica (both of which target the rich retiree/ rich foreign resident population so eagerly courted by City Planners), the job market is crap.
- The powers that are in charge of public transportation, namely Egged and whomever is in charge of the light rail, seem to be blissfully unaware that their mission is to help people get from A to B. (Light Rail Official Motto: "Serving Jerusalem from
2008 2009 2010, someday before the Moshiach comes…we hope. And until then, just ripping up the roads and making you all fucking miserable! Baruch HaShem!").
- The ever-present expectation that of course you are shomer Shabbat, of course you love two-hour long, Carlebach-style Kabbalat Shabbat services and of course you would be wildly interested in such fascinating courses as "You and Spirituality", "Spirituality and You", "Getting to Know the Torah through Vile Touchy-Feely Expressive Dance Classes" and "Create Your Own Interpretive Midrashes that Read Like Really Bad Romance Novels, Just Without the Sex".
- The insane, all-consuming obsession with getting married. Because you are nothing, NOTHING! unless you get married. And have children. Because YOU HAVE NOT LIVED until you have children.
(I would mention Jerusalem's alarmingly high percentage of right-wing lunatics but the truth is that this is met by Tel Aviv's alarmingly high percentage of left-wing lunatics. The only way I am going to find people who are normal politically is if I move to Haifa. Which is not currently on my list of Things To Do.)
Anyway, so right… why the hell AM I moving back to Jerusalem?
It is because I am getting old. Well, not old. But I am settled. At least I want to be settled. Some people are baby-hungry. I am not. If I have children it will be nice, but it will not be an all-consuming tragedy in my life if I remain childless. What I am horribly, ravenously, family-hungry. I want a place to belong to. I want the weight of people pinning me down—at least a little.
The yearning really started to hit right before Pesach. I flirted with the idea of moving back to the States to be near my family. "You can watch your niece and nephew grow. You can spend more time with your parents" I thought to myself. I soon discarded that idea. Who am I kidding? Even when I lived in the States, and even when I lived a 30 minute drive from my brother, I saw my parents once or twice a year and my sister and brother once a year or less. Now that I am here I speak to them and to my parents every few months. We simply do not miss each other all that much. Besides, I like Israel and the very thought of moving back to the States literally gave me nightmares in which I had moved back to the States and was depressed and homesick. Israel is home. The US is not.
But as things are now, Tel Aviv may not be my home in Israel. The perfect freedom of anonymity and the binding ties of family are mutually exclusive. And that is where Jerusalem comes in. Jerusalem, for all of its faults, is where most of my closest friends are. I can go several months without speaking to my sister (and she probably go much longer without speaking to me) but when it comes to my friends in Jerusalem I cannot go a week without speaking with them. As my sister quipped, my close friends in Jerusalem are "siblings like siblings are supposed to be. It is as if you had siblings!" My real niece and nephew are far away, but my ersatz siblings in Jerusalem have plenty of kids for me to be an auntie to.
That is only a partial explanation, as I also have close friends in Tel Aviv whom I will miss once I move. Shockingly (and to my friends and I this is absolutely shocking) I find that I miss the community. For all of its faults, its foibles and its ability to be incredibly obtuse and irritating, I miss the feeling of belonging somewhere.
I went back and forth on this idea for quite a while. To move or not to move. Then, two things happened to help me decide to go with it. First, I got a job in Lod, making a move to Jerusalem that much less hideously impractical. Second, I received a dose of common sense from my friend Ellie. "I don't see what the big deal is. Try it for a year. If you don't like it, you can move back. It is inconvenience and it is money but it is not as though you are making an irreversible decision". She is right. Why not try?