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Back Home in my New Home

JTS These past few months, I’ve been alternately migrating and nesting. We, my husband Yosef and I, taped up boxes, zipped up luggage and flew from the Middle East to the Northeast. From the crowded corridors of the shuk to the tight aisles of (the) Fairway. From Jerusalem’s alleys to New York’s avenues.

Yosef and I just got married in August, the day after Chelsea Clinton, in the Jersey synagogue where I grew up. Now, we’re both back in rabbinical school at JTS. I’m still playing with head-coverings (see my letter from Jerusalem for more on that) — a striped spandex wrap, a brown herringbone cap and the absence of accessories above. Here is some of my writing about coming into a new space and a new self:

Threshold

לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ
Get going, from your land, from your birthplace,
from your parents’ home to the place I will show you. . .

“Hi Manny,” I say to the doorman. He and Yosef are standing under the scaffolding, talking about El Salvador and how fierce the soldiers are there. “You don’t want to mess with them cause they’re like.” (Manny slants his eyebrows and furrows his lips, in an imitation of the no-nonsense, no-negotiation stance of the soldiers of his homeland.) Manny tells me I have a package at the desk.  

I open it when I reach the fifteenth floor: From Amazon – Jewish cookbooks from my mother for my birthday. And I am happy to be home in the warm colors, wooden floors and rugs, the renovated kitchen with its granite and marmoleum (I’m not really sure what marmoleum is, just that it’s kinder to dropped glasses than Jerusalem’s macadam floors). The cabinets are piled high with Mikasa and Lenox in browns, whites and greens. The living room shelves sag with the weight of my father-in-law’s books, and souvenirs from Yosef’s Yeshiva days. Mine, save two new cookbooks, are still in boxes in my parents’ garage. This mix of materials – his/mine/ours – spills out from deep closets and catches light from tall windows. The apartment adjusts to the curves of my body and I learn how to move in its hold. And when a bell cuts through the space, I still don’t know if it’s our door or the intercom to the doormen downstairs. I am here in a here I could not have imagined. Here, it is safe and warm and bright enough. Some days, I dream of there.

–Annie Lewis