Thursday, May 22, 2008

The End of the Beginning


My finals are over. My papers (except for my Liturgy and half of my Israeli Seminar paper) are typed. All of my stuff is in boxes to ship or packed in suitcases. The apartment is clean. My sheirut is coming at 7am to pick me up. Physically, I am ready to leave Israel.

And yet, I am laying in my bed at 1:30am, unable to sleep or comprehend all that is happening. In just a few hours I will be gone from Israel for good. This isn't a 2 week visit home, this is for real. I am really leaving this place.

This place where I have struggled and worked and sang and laughed and cried and fought. This place where I have learned the value of a Jewish homeland and the people who have fought and are still fighting to protect it. This place that has allowed me to grow (and shrink!) and flourish and discover amazing pieces of myself that I never knew exisisted. This place that allowed me to realize the importance of knowing and appreciating who I am.

All week long, amid frantic packing and studying and paper-writing, I've been thinking about the girl who boarded the plane on June 27, 2007. She certainly wasn't the same girl who is sitting here typing right now, for so many reasons. So much has happened as a result of me being in Israel; so much of me has changed, inside and out, and it makes me so proud of myself. So proud of how hard I've worked and how far I've come. So proud of what I've chosen to do and where I've chosen to study. So proud of my place in the Jewish people and in Israel. It's really amazing. I have to say, though, that the changes I've made worry me a bit. Can I come back to the States and maintain this new person who I've come to like so much? Will I fit in to my old life the way I used to? Can I handle going back to where I've come from, with it's own set of challenges and struggles, to sustain my "Israel-self" without falling back into old bad habits?

I honestly don't know. While my self-confidence has skyrocketed this year, I still struggle to be wholly confident in the future, in what I can be and what I can do. I do know, however, that I will have the right people alongside me all the way--just as I have this year--with their help, love and support, I will continue to work to build and sustain the Tracy I want to be; the Tracy I became this year.

This is nowhere near the end of my journey, in life or in cantorial school. This is just the end of the beginning, and I have tons to look forward to. But it still makes me terribly sad to be leaving this amazing place, that for me holds more than just Jewish history and spirituality. I will always look back and think of the person I was and the person I became this year and appreciate this place so much more simply because of that journey.

I am so blessed and so lucky to have had this opportunity.

In fact, I think I might just be the luckiest girl in the world.

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