I lived in Israel from 1976-1998; 22 years! They were 22 exciting years filled with music, people, good friends, a small but important (nuclear) family connection, and with lots of learning, growing, enlightenment, revelation, and filled with CHAI – LIFE!
I was always called “Ann” in Israel.
In August 1976 I returned from Europe to my mother’s house, to the Anglo folk club, and to 6-months in a Hebrew language ulpan. I began to make a new life for myself. I became a person with a new identity; I became a musician and an educator. I became a student. I got religion for a while, and then became “spiritual”, but most importantly, I became a Jew. I gained confidence, strength and pride. There were no holidays now that I was left out of. I was part of the majority and that felt real good.
Rather than go into the little details about my life in Israel, which included eleven wonderfully exciting and fun years as a single woman making a living as a musician – and eleven years married, raising a family, and working musically with young children, I’d like to mention just a few significant moments that made a huge difference to me as a person and as a Jew.
DREAMS & VISIONS
Early on, in the first year or so of my “aliyah” (integration and immigration process), my mother introduced me to her professor, Mr. Dov Noy, a folklorist at the Hebrew University. Dov Noy is a warm, welcoming and friendly man who hosted an open house event every Monday evening at his home in Jerusalem. The purpose of the evening was to network. As people introduced themselves one by one, saying only a few brief introductory remarks, I began to realize that each and every person there that night seemed to be in Israel for a clear and specific reason. With clear intent and purpose, and in only a few sentences, each person told of a particular vision or dream - the reason they were in Israel. It was an awesome and inspiring evening. My eyes were beginning to open to a land and a people rich and full - - whole and complete. Today I have been witness to the actualization of some of those guests' dreams. For example, I remember distinctly a woman with an art collection. She had arranged for a wing to be built at the Israel Museum to house her collection. A few years down the road the wing was dedicated and the dream actualized.
That night at Dov Noy’s home, I met composers, writers and poets, academics, and even a few simple people just like me. Each one was a piece of the puzzle, one of the lost “sparks”, the incoming exiles that would become a future “light unto the world”. To achieve this, all that was needed was simply to live and exist in Israel. This revelation had a profound impact on me. I learned that night that Israel was a place where each person is special and important and where dreams are real and come true.
Two years now in Israel, although I kept company with mostly native English speakers, fondly referred to as “Anglos", I was finally beginning to achieve some basic fluency in speaking Hebrew. The ability to speak Hebrew opened up the whole world to me. With my limited abilities I began to conduc simple yet compelling conversations with all kinds of people, people I would have never met in a lifetime of living in America. Jews from every corner of the world were, and are, to be found in Israel and I could now speak with them all. I didn’t have to seek them out. They were just there everywhere! I began to listen to their stories. I learned so much about the world, about their ives, about places I’d never even heard of. What amazed me the most was that all these strangers had now become part of my ever-growing Jewish family. It seemed to matter little that we had grown up in different parts of the world. As Jews we shared a common history and a collective Jewish experience; and now we shared the same language and country. WOW~! This revelation stopped me in my tracks one day as I marveled in the feeling that I had suddenly become the richest person in the world. Yes, I WAS RICH! I had the world at my fingertips and, what’s more, I was part of it.