I live in what is referred to as the GUSH, on a yishuv (gated community) in the Judean Hills, which is located technically over the green line. It is a mountainous region and has a beauty that I have learned to appreciate, though quite a different landscape than that of the one I grew up with. I was raised in suburbia, with lush greenery surrounding 2 story homes, apple trees and polished gardens. My neighborhood has natural growth and wild flowers spilling from the sides of the streets, dusty wind storms that occasionally blow a sandy orange hue from the depths of Egypt, and we are so high above sea level (967 meters to be exact) that some days it feels as if we could reach the sky.
As a child I’d fall asleep to the sounds of crickets and the occasional car passing by. When I slept at grandma’s house in Brooklyn I’d fall asleep to the city sounds of constant cars honking, sirens blaring, and people in the streets chatting across their porches. Here I often fall asleep to the sound of the wind at my window, sometimes the calls of the stray dog looking for anything that will respond, and the patrol truck making its routine security check.
On any given day I could have looked across the street to the big empty field used for the neighborhood ball game in the summers or see the sled marks heading to the hill towards the woods in the winter. On a clear day it has been said one can see the Yam Hamelach ( The Dead Sea) , from my living room, I think I’ve seen it a few times. There is a park on almost every block of the neighborhood and lots of people are always seen taking their pets for a walk or run, exercising or out for a stroll with their children. The weather reminds me of upstate N.Y. Brisk in the mornings, warm in the afternoons, cool in the evenings.
In my youth if I wanted to get a bit of city life, I had to take a train and travel an hour to get there. Now that I work in the city, a 20 minute drive from home is quite nice. My travel to private school on a minibus would take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic and my children are blessed with a 10-15 minute trip to the town across the main highway. While I had a mix of Christian, Asian, and Jewish friends in my small suburban neighborhood, my children are blessed to be surrounded by children who need no explanation why Saturday is off-limits, because it isn’t.
I loved where I came from and I love where I am today.
Getting from point A to point B may not be as direct as we hope but the stops along the way certainly help one to have a real appreciation for the journey.