The Return of the Nonprodigal Son
Mihai Pascal

For my wife Geta it was even harder than for me. She had the ambition of continuing her career as an arts specialist. There is an inflation of intellectuals in Israel. In the young generation, the ratio of college students is one to two. It is hard to find a job as an intellectual. It is even harder to find the specific thing you are looking for. You must be the best and very tenacious. Geta tried for three years until she could get a job as a specialist at the Museum of Arts in Jerusalem. She worked there until the end.

One year after we arrived we bought an apartment in a very nice house in the old city center. We had a small garden, a black dog named Ţuf, a gazebo with a table and chairs. We were able to get all that due to a 25 year credit from the bank.

Everything was much easier for the kids. They assimilated everything easier because they were going to a school where everybody spoke only Ivrit. They adjusted quickly. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Romanian education system is much better than many of the so-called modern systems from other countries. Due to their high level of knowledge, Cristi and Dănuţacould focus on learning the language and adjusting to the new environment. They both graduated high school without problems and with no private tutoring. They went to college and they also had jobs during their college years. Thus they became mature and independent just like all the other young people from Israel. They are very different from the over-pampered children in Romania.

When we left, I had left my entire family behind. Geta still had a sister in Romania who came to Israel after one year. Both of us had many friends in Romania. We kept in touch and didn?t break all ties with our friends back home. Once every year, sometimes twice, we were coming back home. Leaving the country was not a breaking off to me. It didn?t mean giving it up for good; it was not like sealing a door behind me forever. I permanently knew what was going on in Romania. I was writing to my folks, we were talking on the phone, I was visiting once in a while, and I was listening to news bulletins about Romania. I never had the feeling of breaking off with my roots. I knew it all about the ongoing accentuated economic problems Romania was facing. I didn?t erase with a sponge what I had left behind. In parallel with my struggle for adjusting to a new world, I was spiritually participating to everything I had left behind. Compared to my situation in Romania, in Israel I had visible material advantages from the beginning. Israel is a small country made out of emigrants. The accumulation opportunities had been smaller than if we had gone to the States or to Germany. But, anyway, there we could give our children a better future. That was the reason for leaving Romania in the first place. I was determined to overcome all hardship and to give my children an edge, a comparative advantage, a new horizon compared to the lack of any perspective in Romania. I admit it I never would have thought that the Communist regime would collapse so quickly after our departure. I never suspected it would.

The majority of my Israeli friends, from the beginning till now, are Jews of Romanian origin. It was with them I could speak Romanian. And I still am. They constantly keep in touch with Romanian friends, they care about Romania and they are preoccupied with it. On the way, due to work relations, I also made some friends of various other origins, both from European countries and from outside Europe. This is the interesting thing about Israel: people come here from all over the world. We all start with completely different mentalities and languages. Europeans are connected by a lot of common things, but the others? The Jews from the Mediterranean area and the Jews from exotic countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Iran they have different ways of envisaging the world and their lives. They complete the European influence and bring to Israel the entire Orient.

Israelis a religious country founded in 1948 as a country of the Jews and for the Jews. Therefore religion has a great influence in the public sphere and in the attitude of the authorities. However, my not being a Jew in a Mosaic country was not an issue. I had my wife?s relatives, many friends and I was living in a circle of tolerant, open-minded intellectuals.

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