Easter came and went, leaving me with three extra pounds. We made the family rounds as we always do when we return to Romania. We’ve met a few friends and I ventured downtown Bucharest a few times. Our president was suspended yesterday.
On Sunday we’re leaving for Israel, visiting family for two weeks. I’ve been there before in October 2005 and I liked it. I found Israel as I read somewhere, a “small country with big sites”. I feel that’s the best way to describe it. I grew up under a communist regime so I’m not a religious person. I guess I can call myself a nonpracticing Christian. I only go to church once a year, on Easter night. I don’t read the Bible. But even someone like me feels something when stepping into Nazareth, or at the Jordan River. It feels like you’re breathing history, old or recent, it doesn’t matter.
When I tell people in Romania that we’re going to Israel, there’s one question that everyone asks “Aren’t you afraid?” I also remember getting the same question when I was getting my green card in 2002 (because of September 11). Aren’t you afraid to go to US? “I’m already living there” was my answer, “just that I had a working visa and not a green card. Nothing will change for me.” Two years ago I was contacted by a Swiss who wanted to visit Romania. He’s seen the news reports and was afraid of being robbed. He was asking me if he should carry a paralyzing spray while visiting. I told him there’s no need for that and after his visit he was laughing remembering his fears. Same when we traveled to Argentina, some of our friends were marveling at our courage to visit a country in South America. The media’s representation of a region doesn’t always tell the whole story. Most of the time our fears come from our ignorance about that particular place. And in today’s world, can you be sure that you’re completely safe anywhere in this world? Do you think that you’re safer in your own home town? Did anyone expect the tragic events that took place at Virginia Tech just a few days ago? I have friends who interviewed for a professor position there. It sounded safe at that time. One of the victims was a Jewish professor born in Romania, who survived a labor camp in WWII and the totalitarian regime in communist Romania. We’re never safe from random acts of violence and unfortunately that’s a reality we have to live with.
I feel like my post doesn’t have a point, like it’s missing something. I guess my point will be, don’t stay home just because the outside world seems less safe. Of course I don’t advertise going into a war zone. I don’t want to tempt fate in any way. Of course I’m a bit afraid too when I’m traveling to a place with a history of violence like Israel. But my belief is that in most places the overwhelming majority of people just get along peacefully on a daily basis and they are simply interested in living their lives, earning a living, and being normal people.
These are pictures from my previous visit to Israel:
The Jordan River, the site of Jesus’ baptism (complete with gift shop)
Nazareth, the Grotto of the Virgin inside the Basilica of the Annunciation (this site is believed to be the place where Virgin Mary was announced by an angel that she was to become a mother)