Thursday, April 7, 2011


My wife and I have been back in the U.S. for just a few days over a month, after spending three months in Israel, the largest period we have spent abroad since our 20's.  Sacramento is a wonderful place, especially when spring has sprung as it has the last few days.  Terrific weather, greenery everywhere, fresh air, calm atmosphere, pleasant stores.  On Monday I went skiing up in the Sierras, just an hour-and-a-half away, with one of our sons and our daughter and her boyfriend.  Today they went swimming in the pool at the complex where we live in Sacramento.  That's California.  Add in family, many close friends, and a community you have been a part of for 52 years and it is hard to beat.

 Nonetheless, when a few folks have asked if it felt comfortable to be home or did it take some adjusting, I have not had a quick response.  Yes, it is certainly nice to be here.  But I was a little confused as to where "home" is these days.  I've told people about the amusing little mind games I experienced the first week or two back in Sacramento.  Waking up and for a few seconds not quite knowing exactly which apartment I was in.  Or, telling your wife you will go pick something up and visualizing the store in the other country. Amusing but not very consequential.

But where is home?  Where you grew up, where you have many friends and associates, a string of reference points for your entire life?  Where you understand the language, the social nuances, the politics, just about everything?  That has to be home. 

Or is home the place where your people originated, formed a nation, developed a religion that formed the basis for modern man's thinking about justice?  The place that after two thousand years of being outcasts, your people reunited and, through sheer determination and against all odds, re-founded your home and made it a booming, prosperous land?  Is it the place that accepts you as a matter of right, that ticks to your clock and functions on your calendar?  Where you've been welcomed as part of the project of rebuilding, even if you are doing it on a pretty tentative and transient basis?  Where you are playing, or can think you are playing, a sliver of a role in the rebuilding of your homeland? 

For me, it is a little hard to know exactly where "home" is these days.  But it is a nice problem to have. 


A few things I had forgotten about while away and that I could have done without:

--That irritatingly pleasant female pitchman for the oil industry telling you all the good news about drilling for oil right here in the good ole' USA.  And it produces jobs too!

--That really stiff and uncomfortable owner/pitchman for TaxMasters, who is your man if you haven't paid taxes in several years.  I'm not convinced he really is the best tax accountant you could find, but he looks like he could be your man if you think you might have a physical altercation with the IRS agent.

--Former N.Y. Governor Elliott Spitzer as a TV journalist.  The man is a hypocrite, a liar, and a criminal.  So CNN gives him a primetime show.  Apparently crime and hypocrisy do pay, and they pay quite well. 


  1. i say you are a lucky man, alan. and a brave and courageous one. i really envy that you could give up your home and downsize to make you bi continental living work. it just may come to that here as well.

    keep writing!

  2. Alan, I do envy you!
    While I live in Toronto and am your neighbour in Jerusalem I haven't quite figured out how I can spend much more time in my "real home" in Israel, just like you just did.... But I will keep trying to copy you....