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Change, Too, is Good
by KJ Hannah Greenberg




Computer Cowboy and I are downsizing. Younger Dude’s the only one left at home with Missy Younger living in Tel Aviv, Older Dude living in Herzliya, and Missy Older, her husband, and our grandbabies living in Beit Shemesh. We no longer need our expansive flat.


Quantitatively, that means we’re seeking to sell our six bedroom, four bathroom, one hundred and sixty one meter place, and then to purchase an residence that covers about half of that space, both per square meters and per room count. More exactly, we’re looking for: eighty plus meters of area (although, one hundred would be sweet), three and one half or four bedrooms (I need office space), and two baths.


We also need a garden level location or an apartment on a low floor and in an elevator building; my knees are increasingly wonky. High floors won’t work for us since elevators sometimes break.


Furthermore, we need to live in a religious neighborhood. We want easy access to synagogues, to stores with a high level of kashrut, and, maybe, even to restaurants that are as strict as we are in observing the laws surrounding dietary restrictions. I would love, additionally, to dwell in a community where women’s learning groups, shiurim, and other enhancements to spirituality exist.


The good news is that our change of address is unlikely to occur soon. Israelis are slow to vacate and slow to occupy. Our friends estimate that our transition, even if we move within our current neighborhood, could take an entire year.


The bad news is that this change tugs along with it bucketfuls of loss. My kids grew up in this manor. One of my grandkids had his brit milah here. We’ve made friends in these whereabouts and have merited to celebrated many sma’achot, here, as well. What’s more, my writing career rocketed here (I’ve been writing since I was eight, being paid for my publications since I was fifteen, teaching writing at the university level since my early twenties, but only generating creative work on a full-time basis since my late forties).


Whereas I can take my memories with me and whereas my husband and I, relative to most of the folks who were raised in the United States, are not particularly materialistic, we still own too many personal paraphernalia to move all of them to a home half of the size of our extant one. To wit, I’ve been giving away wall art and packing family photos. Our future domicile’s limited wall space will necessarily be covered by our many bookcases. As per our photo collection, which has burgeoned beyond manageability, it’s been put on a diet.


Namely, when our kids were small, I made montages of each of them, for each of their first five years of life. Consequently, counting only those montages, we own twenty, large-sized pieces of wall art. I’ve made myself pick my favorite three montages of each kid (I later created more photo groupings than those first twenty) and then box the rest. Hubby hated that I subsequently labeled the box “to open after parents are dead,” but I need to put those other assembled pictures into “deep storage.” I’m resigned myself to letting my sons and daughters figure out, in decades to come, what to do with those images.


We’re debulking our religious books, too. I’ve given away, to friends who are, or who have children who are serious Torah scholars, many, many, many of these texts. Some of those copies were left behind when our kids moved out. Other titles were in Hebrew, hence, are of small use to Hubby and me, who carry on struggling with the local lingo. Yet others, we’ve discovered, as we reshuffle our possessions, are multiple copies of single titles. While we’re not moving into a caravan, our moving into quarters smaller than our present abode will cause us to have to allocate room for any of our personal property judiciously.


In the meantime, Hubby and I are sorting through other, “easier” to separate from, items. That is, slowly, we’re going through the things we stored in our emergency shelter and the things we stored in the stowage space off of our rooftop mirpesset. Some Sukkot decorations went to a gemach. Some expired canned food got tossed. Our air mattresses, too, went to the dumpster as the passage of many years rendered them useless (that toss was an “ouch” as we slept on those mattresses after moving here while awaiting our home furnishings to be shipped over.) I’m not going to worry about where our male guests will sleep next Sukkot until I know we will have adequate room external to our next home for a sizable sukkah.


Above and beyond the aforementioned, we’ll have to put aside with some of our bits and pieces simply because they are worn out. Very little of what we have has resale value – we’ve never been interested in ownership for its own sake, and, therefore, have many effects that have become, over, b’ayin tova, the course of forty years, threadbare.


More specifically, our sofas will either have to be reupholstered or donated to charities (Although they’re less than fifteen years young, we’ve long since covered their rips and tears by shrouding the entirety of them in sheets. Our futon, which is closer to twenty-five years old, and which was a more significant investment, similarly, will need to be recovered.) At least our spending on seating was no misallocation of funds as our seating has been well used.


Moreover, it’s probable that our fridge, our microwave, and our dishwasher won’t make it to our new address; original to our aliyah, they’re neither worth repairing or transporting. Equally, I suspect we will have to buy new mattresses, too, since the passage of time has brought many of them to the end of usability.


Among the most painful trappings, though, to parcel out are our children’s baby clothes. While I chose not to save their American wardrobes, their cartons of toys, or others of their baby and toddler paraphernalia, I did put aside one small box of accoutrements for each of my four offspring. I had hoped that my children would pass on the contents of those boxes to their own children.


Unfortunately, just as my married daughter was unable to fit into my wedding gown (we have different body types) and my unmarried was disinterested in it (we have different fashion sensibilities), these baby things hold no appeal for our progeny. Likely, these kits will wind up at a charity instead in the hands of our family’s next generation.


Meanwhile, most of our dozens of potted plants, from fully grown trees, to medium-sized cacti, to smaller clusters of perennials, have been rehomed. Our large mirpesset, which comfortably seats fifty for sma’achot, has been encircled with these green friends during the decade plus during which we’ve lived her. Even though we’ve kept a few dozen of our houseplants, with the understanding that they, too might have to be abandoned, dependent on the manifestation or lack thereof of outdoor space associated with our next lodging, we’ve distributed the majority of them.


While the aforesaid has been taking place, we have likewise gifted or donated: many members of our lifelong collection of fabric animals, a handful of tables, and some clothing. Very few kinds of belongings have escaped our efforts to reduce the number of stuffs we own. Nonetheless, bits and bobs are the easiest loss about which to write.


It’s more difficult to articulate how we would feel, if we found ourselves moving out of our neighborhood. Our cherished, local friends, those folks whom we met at synagogue, at lectures, and at other community institutions, are more precious to us than are any of the objects that we are apportioning. Our regular interactions with those dear ones are invaluable. We would grieve if we had to move away from them.


Sure, regardless of which among our goods we keep, and, more expressively, regardless of with which of our friends we are able to stay in contact, we will, IYH, stay in Jerusalem, that is, we will continue to live in this holy city. All things considered, it’s valuable to remind ourselves that our lives, following our relocation, will not be the same as they are now, but they will remain wonderful.


This forfeiture comes with a whisper of pleasant emotions. Consider that a new home leads to a new life chapter, which, in turn, opens up new opportunities. Gam zu la tova; this move, too, is good.


For today, our apartment is still on the market. It might take a week, a month, or a season before a potential buyer makes us a suitable offer. In the interim, between that offer and our finding a new nest, I have sorting in which to engage. I need to: pick over the contents of two physical filing cabinets, surgically reduce the number of books I’ve kept hold of from my days as a rhetoric professor, and winnow various office supplies. I need to thin out my kitchen gear, too.


It’s incumbent on me, as well, to take advantage of events with local friends and to pray gratitude for my relationship with all of my beloveds. I don’t write my own life’s script. On balance, I can be appreciative for its twists and turns.




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