Ever since I can remember, I had been thinking a lot about what a home is. As a kid I loved playing “house”, I loved making my barbies a home and building small forest homes. As I became a teenager and started to go backpacking my friends used to make fun of me that everywhere I camped I looked for a rock that will be my kitchen, a rock that would be my table, and I would always find them, put my sleeping pad near them and announce: this is our home for tonight!
As I left the home I grew up in and started my journey for my own home I remember often feeling a sense of detachment from the places I tried to call home. Probably because I was on a journey to find myself, and a journey to find a community that is right for me as part of that process.
In Hebrew, the word home and house are the same word. Bait. בית. This is probably one of the only times I think the punctuality of English words can be more beautiful than the abstract characters of the Hebrew language. In this case Hebrew implies that a house and a home are the same word, while English makes the beautiful distinction between a house: “a building in which people live; residence for human beings.” and a home: "a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household. the place in which one's domestic affections are centered.” (https://www.dictionary.com/)
Maybe being a wandering Jew is in my blood. Like a good Jew, I carry years and years of exile on my back. As a first-generation Israeli, it almost feels like 2000 years of exile want you to find the home you are looking for right in Israel. In some ways it is there, Israel is my home and will always be my home. But what makes a house a home are the people in it, and the shared experiences as well. Seems like the biggest thing I have learned here is that I have a home with the Jewish people everywhere, always. Growing up in Israel we are often thought that Israel is the place where all Jewish people should be. This is the home of the Jewish people. And I, a wandering Jew in Israel believed that. That is all I knew. What I know now, Israel is the home of the Jewish people just like the Jewish people are home for Israelis.
The first time I landed in Salt Lake City, I remember being in total shock, and the first thing I saw as I walked out of the airport were my coworkers: Chad and Joy, and Boss, Alex, who I have only met on zoom before, holding a sign saying “we've got her!”. And the first thing they asked me, like good Jewish mothers, is if I want to go eat. Within a millisecond, I felt at home and knew this is the best decision I have ever made. I have not once felt differently about that. Moving here, opening the world I was living into a whole new world, and being a part of this community is the best decision I have ever made. I met the most wonderful people, I made friends for life of all ages. I got to work on my skills, grew so much as a person, and most of all I finally felt at home.
I think many people these days, especially in the USA, are looking for a community. I see this with many of my friends. I was lucky enough to get to do just that for a living. Help build community and help people on this journey to find a home for themselves. In Israel, we like to say: Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days. (שלח לחמך על פני המים כי ברבות הימים תמצאינו). This is something that I kept thinking about in the last three years, I feel like I have really sent my bread upon the waters, all these years of my life, building my identity. Meeting new people and looking for a place. And I know that this is something that I will keep doing and have been doing here. And I know that I have found some of that bread and will keep finding it over and over again.
Utah and the Jewish community in Utah will always be a home to me. Even though it won't be a physical house anymore. It will always be a place for me where a piece of my heart is strongly connected to. Thank you for that. I wish you know that you always have a home with me.