One of the things I always do when traveling is try to imagine what I would be like if I had grown up and lived in the place I’m visiting. In Israel this was especially personal, as I was raised in a culturally Jewish household. Everywhere we went in Israel were people living lives I could have lived if my great-grandparents had left Europe for Israel instead of for New York.
My immigrant ancestors slowly became less religious and more focused on the traditions and cultural aspects of Judaism the longer they lived in the United States. My Orthodox great-great-grandparents had Conservative children; these Conservative great-grandparents had my Reform grandparents, and my Reform grandparents had my parents, who are what I would call ultra-Reform; our rabbi and cantor dressed up as a bunch of grapes and a bottle of beer for Purim one year. So, yeah, ULTRA-Reform.
But if my forebears had immigrated to Israel instead of America, could I have been one of these young girls today (well, 15-20 years ago when I was small child)?
Could my little brother have been this cutie, tallis strings and all?
What about this modestly dressed woman (modest in coverage, if not in tightness, and look at those designer shades!)? As a young woman in Israel, would my family have retained stricter religious rules? Would I have covered my hair and body but splurged on brand name accessories?
As an Israeli citizen, me and of all my family and friends would have been trained soldiers at one point:
My grandparents could have been these old men, totally pocket-material (so adorable you want to shrink them up and put them in your pocket and take them around with you everywhere and take them out of your pocket to say hi to and squeeze a little and put them back in to carry with you for the rest of the day!):
No matter where I go, I play the “What If …?” game a bit.
What if I was born here? What would my life be like? What would I be like?
It’s one of the best parts of traveling, letting your mind wander around the endless possibilities …