The Road Home

Home is a place where you were born to belong.  It’s where you grow, where you learn, where you find out who you are. Home is a springboard that launches you from a solid foundation into the air and home is also the cushion for when you don’t land on your feet. 

For Jews on every continent, home is a physical reality.  Most Jews live in the Diaspora, but no matter what, the Jewish people can always call Israel home.

For the residents of Beit T’Shuvah, home has been nothing more than a fictional construction, a fabrication of a normal life that has long been out of reach.  The actions of their past lives have caused them to forget that, as part of the Jewish People, they will always have a home.

“My grandfather lived in Palestine for 2 years after he escaped Germany in 1938,” says Josh, one of the participants slated for this trip.  Josh looks forward to this chance to reconnect with his heritage, and he sees Israel in part as a family home in addition to a homeland.

Before he occupied a bed at Beit T’Shuvah, Josh had spent time living in the bed of his 2001 Toyota Tacoma pick-up: a ragged (though still running) collection of sunburnt paint, a front bumper bent on both sides, only two out of four hubcaps, and a broken latch on the hardshell camper that gave him shelter. This summer, Josh will be able to call a much larger collectionof images home: the shimmering Kineret near the Golan Heights, the lights of city night life in Tel-Aviv, loud vendors selling perfectly crispy-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside green falafel, the hot sun in the Negev, the smooth yet grainy mud at the Dead Sea, and the slick Jerusalem stone worn down by millennia of Jewish feet.

An Israeli Falafel Stand

Israel became the Jewish home at the end of the biblical journey of Hebrew slaves who had escaped Egypt.  Beit T’Shuvah culture emphasizes the connection between this journey to Israel and an addict’s journey to sobriety.  In the musical Freedom Song, the comparison is made directly, but through groups, individual therapy, programs, and torah study, Beit T’Shuvah instills in its residents the perspective that they themselves have escaped slavery, that when they were in their addiction, no place could feel like their own home.  Now sober, these 12 Beit T’Shuvah residents are finally able to feel at home.

The only thing in the way for each of them is their own $500 ticket to New York.  From there, Taglit-Birthright will take care of their homecoming.  You can make sure they get there by clicking here and donating to the cause.

Tel-Aviv by Night

2 thoughts on “The Road Home

  1. very moving. This ‘starving Rabbinic Intern’ already donated $36. Who else can offer something?

  2. A very intense discussion came up as a result of this blog. Where is home? I for one spent 2 separate years of my life living in Israel. Once when I was a mere 5, and again after highschool for a year of learning Torah and travelling, when I was 18. Some of the participants in the discussion felt that while Israel was ‘fun,’ it was not home. I found that I felt spiritually tethered to the land from the moment i stepped off the plane, and that during my time there, I debated making Aliyah (moving to Israel), but ultimately, found my way back ‘HOME’ to America, the place I was raised and used to. I was raised to believe that Israel is my home. I was also brought up in a holocaust surviving family knowing the true value of Israel as a safe haven to my people after 1948. I am proud to be able to call Israel ONE of my homes, though I suppose it’s more of a 2nd home, as my 1st is obviously the one I returned to. Is there a difference between home and homeland? I feel that there is. Israel is my homeland, a refuge for my people, a physical place where my people’s entire history has played out. There is a part of me that wishes i was connected enough to call it home too. The place where I rest my head at night. Until then, I still believe in the importance of sending Jewish people to Israel to experience and interpret it for themselves. It may be the home of the world’s best falafel, but it’s also the place where they can touch the same ground as their forefathers, or their distant relatives who fought in the 6 Day War, or press up against the Wailing Wall- a construct that has been housing the prayers of the Jewish people for millennia. I am excited for this year’s adventurers and can’t wait to hear if they indeed found themselves at home!

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