My First, My Last, My Everything

It is the time of year where people are beginning to leave, things are beginning to change. Within the next month, my year in Israel will end and I will return to Detroit for a brief stint before moving to Chicago for my summer job and then back to LA for school. In this time, many of the people who became my family this year will begin to go their separate ways. Some I’ll see in a few short months when I return to LA, some I’ll see in a few months when I travel to their wedding, and some, I don’t know when I will see again. It is such a strange feeling. It seems like I just got here yesterday, like I just left Detroit a week ago. Yet, at the same time, it feels like I have been here forever. Perhaps it is the intense environment that I have been living in that allows relationships to grow and build much quicker than in a “normal” setting. Perhaps these feelings come from the incredible ups and downs I have felt this year. Perhaps this feeling comes from this in between place I find myself in.

Here I am counting down the days until I go home, as up until now, I counted the months since I left and the months I have lived here. I am constantly torn. I want to go back to my family, my friends, my community, to the places where I am comfortable. But at the same time, I don’t want to leave this community I have found here. I don’t want to leave this place that I love so much, the holiness and connection I feel in everyday activities. I don’t want to leave the learning, the rich environment, and the struggles. I don’t want to leave the ease of living in a place that is Jewish, with all of the challenges that come with it. I want to see my mom, hug her, and my dad, my sister, my dog. I want to share a Shabbat with my community, with those who helped me to get to where I am. But I don’t want to leave those who helped be become who I am this year.

And I find myself surrounded by lasts. Everyone has started to say “this is my last….” And many are having their “first last……” it is a very strange feeling to think about lasts when I feel like there are so many first still to be had. Just when I thought I had it figured out to some degree, it is all changed again.

Tonight I walked home from shul with my friend Matt, as we had our last walk home from shul together, I got nostalgic. It was very much Matt and his wife Jen who helped build the community I have loved being a part of this year. And I will see them again soon in Los Angeles when we learn together. They are 2 people who I am very lucky to have in my community this year who will continue to be a part of my life. I think I would have been lost without them this year. It is then very fitting that I have a “last” with them, as I also had many firsts with them. My first Shabbat in Israel, the day I arrived I was whisked off to their home for an incredible Shabbat dinner, I had my first nap in a park on Shabbat with them, my first visit to the Kotel on this visit, my first amazing waffle and the waffle bar on Aza with them, my first trip to the mall, and so many more.

It is strange to think that in the next month I’ll have many firsts and many lasts. But, maybe they are not lasts. I hope that they are not lasts. I hope to return to this amazing city, to this land that speaks to me so beautifully and clearly, and have many more experiences. Instead of focusing on the “last…” I think I’ll focus on the “firsts.” Perhaps I’m in denial that I am leaving, or perhaps I don’t want to think about the finality of this year. But, I think it is more than that. I think I am trying to find a way to take this with me. It is not a last, but a new beginning. This year was a first in so many ways… this year was a first, a last and SOOOO MUCH MORE!! And for all of that I am grateful and proud.

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