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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Kobi and Rafi Snukal on the July 12, 2012, Nefesh B’Nefesh flight. (Credit: Judah Rosen)

On the wings of eagles you soar

Over brown suede mountains and sapphire oceans deep.

Over emerald studded pastures and fields of lavender and sage

You rise.

Above the cotton clouds.

You are still holding your breath,

Every so often reminding yourself to exhale.

Making little warm patches on the EL AL window

Tracing your name

And watching it slowly fade into the glass.

You have left behind your small markings

Your footprints and indentations

Years in the making.

Mostly invisible but not to you.

You have left your childhood home

Your favorite bookstore

Your soul sister

Your seat in your synagogue

That has been your place

For too long to remember.

You have left a piece of your self

Scattered and whole

On the bimah where your son had his bris

And his name was sung for the very first time

Claiming his rightful place among his nation

And his brothers after that.

Where you watched your new husband leave for his very first day of his very first job

When he turned innocently to wave

Shiny and bright and nervous

And you watched him hold his breath.

Where you kissed your child’s forehead as he climbed up the steps of the yellow school bus on his first day of first grade.

Shiny and bright and nervous

On the corner hill near your house

Where you cradled his broken arm that time he fell off his scooter

Where the cherry blossoms bloomed and rained down like soft pink snow.

It’s all there.

Tucked tightly in your heart

Memories fading and reappearing

Like your breath on that airplane window.

You are nervous and so excited

You are worried.

But you will land.

You will breathe and exhale.

You will climb down the stairs

Clutching the banister so tightly

You will inhale the warm desert air

And feel this new sun on your skin.

And you will be welcomed

Like royalty.

There will be dancing and singing

Complete strangers overwhelmed and overcome by your arrival

Tears of joy from family waiting until they can wrap their arms around you

Never letting you go.

It will be infectious and exhilarating

Spectacular and moving and life changing

And it will stay with you.

And when the parade is over

When the music dies down and the colorful confetti is swept haphazardly to the side of the cobblestone road

New life emerges.

It began on that sticky tarmac

And continues at the gas station where you fill up your car all by yourself for the very first time

And that will seem like the biggest accomplishment.

And it will begin at that same gas station where a complete stranger will knock on your car window just to tell you your license plate is the gematriya of v’ten tal u’matar

And that small gesture will fill you in such a deep way

Because you know that could only happen

Here

In a gas station

In your homeland.

It will begin when you will walk your baby to gan where the orange passionfruit flowers bloom and blush

Where you kiss your baby’s forehead as he walks inside on his first day

Where he will turn to wave

Shiny and new and nervous

And his ganenet will hug you and whisper

Yehiyah biseder

As she sees you holding yourself together fighting back a floodgate of tears.

It will begin when you wave goodbye to your husband on

His first day of his new job

This time in the shiny Azrieli towers in Tel Aviv.

It will even begin when your second grader cries heartbreaking tears that shred your soul into a million pieces

and then some

Hysterical that he doesn’t want to go to school

Ever

And that you ruined his life

Forever

And how could you..

It will begin when you have to book an appointment with the pediatrician but you have no idea what you are doing and the seemingly simple task is so not simple that you just crumble.

It will begin when you hear your teenage sons laughing with their friends in a new language that you want so desperately to own as your own.

And it will begin when your son who ran away from home when you told him you were making aliyah

proudly wears his olive greens

and whispers ‘thank you’ into your ear

as he takes his rightful place among his nation of brothers and sisters.

It will begin when you realize you are driving to your destination without having to use Waze or Google maps. And that the unfamiliar has now become increasingly familiar.

It will begin as soon as you pay it forward.

It will begin and it will keep beginning.

And you will start to piece this new you together

Piece by piece

Breath by breath.

You will rise

and you will fall hard.

It will knock the air out of your lungs

All these new beginnings

In this new language that trips you flat on your face.

You will rise and you will fall

You will rise and you will fall

And you will find your new rhythm

And you will band together with new people

Who are rising and falling alongside you

And finding their new rhythm.

And their new breath.

They will hold you up.

Let them.

And you will run to hold them up.

And you will realize that your heart is big enough to expand over countries and over oceans.

You will sit by the azure waters of the Mediterranean

Watching each turquoise wave wash up on the golden velvety sands

Making new imprints

Some that last and some that fade

Washing onto the shore salty green seaweed, speckled bivalve shells,

And pieces of jade green glass that catch the sun,

that have been smoothed over time by the lapping of the foaming waves

All washing up together on the shore from previous places and distant lands

Mixing the old with the new

The broken with the unbroken.

All becoming a new whole.

(In honor of all those making aliya this week on the NBN flight and in honor of our family’s seventh year aliya anniversary this July 12.)

By Esti Rosen Snukal


Esti Rosen Snukal made aliya with her husband and four sons from Teaneck to Chashmonaim in 2012. She is an advocate for lone soldiers and adopted mom for lone soldiers as well as a contributor to The Jewish Link, Aish.com and Times of Israel blogs. Esti can be reached at [email protected] Follow Esti on Facebook and on Instagram @ Esti1818.