Peace, Love and Hummus

It’s been seven months since I left Livnot. Count ‘em, SEVEN MONTHS! I’ll never understand the whole ‘passage of time’ thing- how seven entire months have passed since I’ve seen the sunset from the Livnot balcony is truly beyond me. They just don’t make sunsets quite like that anywhere else, am I right?

In August, I made my dreaded departure from Livnot. I freshly  remember that sound of the old cobblestones under my feet as I took one last detailed mental snapshot of the Livnot campus. As rough as it was for the wheels on my suitcase to thump down those steps, the temporary cobblestone rollercoaster was nothing compared to the panging discomfort of saying goodbye to the community that had become my summer home.

After leaving Israel, I returned home to North Jersey and my relatively normal life in my regular little town that hardly anyone’s ever heard of. I was back in the U.S., the home of the brave, the land of liberty, full of purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain. I’ve lived in America my entire life, and aside from the general lack of purple mountains in my everyday, I couldn’t tell anyone what an amber wave of grain is, even if I wanted to.

Returning to New Jersey was (and still is) a major adjustment. It became evident that my spiritual development and ‘leap of faith’ mentality that I worked on in Tzfat would not be so steadily maintained at home. My old habits of cynicism and defensiveness appeared to be more suitable for the U.S. lifestyle. With every passing day- it became increasingly obvious to me that things truly functioned on such a significantly different wavelength than they did in Israel.

As weeks went by, and more Shabbats went uncelebrated, I could feel that beautiful light, that Livnot lit in my heart, starting to flicker. That indescribable spark that brightened my spirit was getting weaker. I only wished that my Banot Sherut would appear in song and dance, pulling me out of my chair, making me participate and have fun, never letting the fear of embarrassment get in the way.

That light, you know- the everlasting one deep inside your heart that shines like the sun and radiates on everyone? Yes, that one. That beautiful spark of light is hands down the best souvenir from my summer travels. I bought a ton of awesome jewelry and genie-pants, but nothing compares to the enigmatic glow of happiness that Livnot gave me.

It’s an honest struggle to maintain that glow in a secular society. Here, spirituality isn’t such a priority and everyday experiences constantly combat my efforts to stay true to the light. It’s not easy to come home after Livnot, for me anyway. But, the strength I gained over the summer keeps reminding me that while the road to spiritual satisfaction is not so neatly paved here as it is in Tzfat, there is hope. There has to be. Maybe it’s time I broaden my search for that spark. There is beauty to be recognized in every nook and cranny of life. So, my lovely Chevre- keep exploring, stay hopeful, and always always always feed your soul.

-Gabi Kalter