Belarus, Israel and Jane Austen

Today I came across an article about Russian immigrants, more precisely, adults who immigrated as children with their parents. They spoke about moving to Israel from the Soviet countries, well I experienced it twice. Not many can say that.

When I was five my family and I arrived to Israel from Belarus, in 1992. My mom always says they bought me a winter coat with the only money they had. We arrived to a cold and wet January to a small cottage in a village, Hadar-Am, near Netanya. None of us spoke Hebrew, and we were different in a country that wasn’t familiar with the soviet world. some were very warm and welcoming but the Israeli children could be mean and hateful. shouting at you what they heard at home: dirty and smelly Russian girl, go back to Russia, where you belong.

I grew a thick skin and learned to ignore. life continued and i fell in love with Israel, the people, the food, the landscape. In 2008 my parents returned to Belarus. I stayed for a year because my soul belonged in Israel, but joined my family a year later, because my heart belonged with them. I was determined to succeed and built a life there, got in to Uni. made friends,  learned Russian grammar with agony and tried to breath in the cold cold country.

What do you do when your heart and soul disagree? I walked a lot during that year, walked, looked at the world changing with the passing of time and seasons, leaves turned orange, fell and trees were covered in snow, as my soul was longing for sunny Israel, walk on the beach, reunite with my friends. How can one leave a family and go? I realized I was born to be happy and Israel was where I was happy. The long and solitary walks remind me now of Jane Austen novels; the heroine walking in the woods, contemplating in the fresh air and arriving at life changing decisions.

I realized I had to go back, back to the country that even after 25 years wasn’t always kind to the Russian girl in me. Back to the country where I didn’t feel Israeli, nor Russian, but at home.

Sometimes we have hard decisions to make. People will always have something to say, go out into the fresh air, look at the trees and listen to your heart. It knows best.

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