The very name of my blog is the Baggage of Thoughts. No matter where I go, I always take my baggage along. I move cities, countries and continents, adding new thoughts into my expanding baggage. My baggage has seen a lot on the way.
At times I feel that my baggage can’t contain so many experiences and controversial ideas. Being young and naive, I used to throw away the unnecessary artefacts of my immigration journey: clothes, notepads, phone-books, pictures… I felt terrible afterwards, trying to catch the past, but – alas- it was gone.
These days I don’t go that far. Everything happens for a reason. I just need to find the hidden meaning behind each incident. (Don’t you wish it was that easy?))
So, I have to admit: my destiny is immigration. It’s been eight years since I left Moscow, but I still can’t find a place where I belong.
No matter where I live, I always look back, trying to bring together experiences from the past in my unrealistic struggle to find harmony in my own Utopia land, where I would be surrounded by long-distance friends and family members. And the crispy snow from Russian forest. And the lights of Times Square by night. And the evergreen Australian mountains. And the intense blue sky of Jerusalem… And a million of other things I’ve met on my journey that shaped my personality into a nostalgic immigrant, who is never satisfied with her lot.
Anyway. I don’t want to make this post to be full of pessimism. I’ll look for deeper meaning in my wanderings, because everything happens for a reason.
A few weeks ago, when I was particularly nostalgic, a sudden idea stuck in my head: I am not alone on this journey.
As a religious Jewish woman, I always look for Torah references that have an implication on my own life. And the truth is, most of the Patriarchs had to migrate throughout their lives. Avraham, who was the very first Jew, had to leave his motherland and move to the unknown land of Israel in order to become the spiritual leader of his generation.
His grandson Yaakov had to leave his parents to establish his family that became the foundation of the Jewish nation. Eventually he moved back, but at a very elderly age he had to move to Egypt again in order to reunite with his beloved son Yosef. By the way, Yosef had an amazing immigration experience as well. Being enslaved at 17, he spent quite a few years in jail, where he was embarrassed by the arrogant Egyptians; however, later on Yosef became the second to the Pharaoh and managed to save the Egyptians from famine.
Talking about Egypt, it’s worthy to mention Moshe Rabeinu, the famous Moses or the Prince of Egypt. Even though, he grew up in the Pharaoh’s palace, he had to spend many years in exile, where he acquired the necessary qualities to become the leader of the Jewish people. And by the way, the Jews have obtained the status of one nation only after they moved from Egypt, in the midst of the Sinai desert, where they had received the famous ten commandments. Yes, immigrants rock!
What else can I say… I love the company I am surrounded by on my immigration quest, guys! The list is far from being over.
The Scripture retells numerous stories about the immigration experiences that shaped the identities of Jewish leaders and made them strong enough to carry out their task of being spiritual mentors to thousands of people. I’ll recall just a few more: Ruth, the great grandmother of kind David, had moved from her native country Moav to Israel, and Yona the prophet, who initially tried to escape from fulfilling G-d’s mission and then changed his mind during a challenging sea journey…
After the Jewish nation has spread into Diaspora, the immigration phenomenon has always followed the Jews. From Israel to the Roman Empire and then to Spain, Portugal, England and the rest of Europe … From Germany to Poland and Russia, and then to South and North America, and, of course, to Australia.
Who are we – the Jews? We are lifelong strangers with a massive baggage of cultural differences and a rich tapestry of Jewish philosophy and wisdom. And a fiddle, just in case.
From a very young age, I was aware of the fact that one day I would have to leave Russia. My father would take me to English tutors who programmed my mind to think in English, rather than wasting time translating to Russian. They have accomplished their mission. I am able to read, write and think in English, but I still feel in Russian, with a heavy Jewish accent.
I read Sholom Aleichem’s books about the old Russia, where Jews lived in tiny gettos and spoke Yiddish – the slaughtered language of my ancestors – and I feel guilty that I cannot read these stories in Yiddish, only in English or Russian, on my Australian couch in Melbourne, miles away from the country of my birth.
And I know that most probably I will never reunite with my beloved friends, parents and siblings, who are scattered around the world… Why so? Not sure… But I guess there is a valid reason for this puzzle as well. It’s a part of the bigger picture. And one day I’ll figure out why on earth do I have to be separated from them. For now I’ll just say ‘It’s all for good.’ Point.
After all, in a way, we all migrate throughout our life, constantly overcoming difficulties and moving forward to become stronger, better and happier.