This series of interviews is drawing to a close and I am honored to end it with Risa who has lived in Israel for so long. Please read the moving posts she has selected from her blog. Thank you Risa for your wonderful contribution and your kindness in the emails we exchanged prior to this post.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
I’m Risa, I was born in New York and have lived in Israel since 1967. I am married to David, we have six children and a whole bunch of grandchildren.
What is your religious background (if any)?
I grew up in a warm Jewish home and received a modern orthodox elementary school education. My family’s religious experience was a journey of learning and incorporating Tora and observance into a middle-class Jewish life.
When and why did you decide to make aliyah?
Almost as long as I can remember I knew I wanted to live in Israel. I guess children don’t like being different. I wanted to be somewhere where there were people like me and I thought a Jewish country would be just the thing for me. In high school I joined a Zionist youth movement (Betar) where I found other kids who identified with the idea. The Six Day War broke out just after I turned 18. I arrived in Israel the week after the war ended intending to stay for a year but that stretched into forever.
Where in Israel do you live and is there a special reason you live there?
I live in Rehovot which is a medium sized city south of Tel Aviv. Our main claim to fame is the Weizzmann Institute of Science. We’ve been here fourteen years. For twenty years before that we were members of a moshav in Ramat Hagolan where my children were born and mostly grew up. Farming was not working out well for us financially and we moved. Wherever I live in Israel is special and I feel privileged to be alive in a generation that can live here.
When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging in the summer of 2006 when Batya of me-ander and Shiloh Musings asked me to post while she was on a trip to the US and wouldn’t have access to a computer. I’ve known Batya and her husband Winkie (actually I met him first) from my Betar days, so I couldn’t say no.
Have you been surprised by the way your blogging activity has evolved over the years?
I must admit that I didn’t think I would write as often as I do. It’s nice to have a place that is about me and the things that are important to me. I was never really into keeping a diary mainly because I never saw the point of writing to myself. But this is like having a memory box and letting others peek. I hope someday some of my descendants might look at some of this and understand a bit about my life. I wish I could read how my my grandmother felt when she arrived at Ellis Island.
To what extent do you feel your blogging activity reflects on the global perception of Israel?
None at all, not that many people read my blog and those who do mostly are pro-Israel anyway.
What post(s) are you most proud of?
My favorite posts are about my family and our history:
About my granddaughter’s birth
About my discovery on the cemetery on the Mount of Olives
About my grandfather
About my mother and her Shabbat candles
Would you care to share a blog or two you enjoy?
I like the feeling of an on-line community that has evolved among the many jblogs especially the ones by women like your own and Leora’s, In the Pink, Call Me Chaviva, Beneath the Wings, Coffee and Chemo, One Tired Ema, I”ll Call Baila, A Mother in Israel and many more. I read some blogs devoted to Torah subjects like The Rebbetzin’s Husband and Hirhurim-Musings and try to keep up with what’s going on in Israel.