Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movin' Groovin'

On Sunday, I received a call from one of my best friends in the world, Groovin'. We talked for about three minutes. Last night, I tried reaching him quickly after a Lander Alumni Council meeting to see if I could catch him, but it was too late. The next time I speak to him, he'll have fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams: Become an olah. {Shortly thereafter, he'll fulfill another one which the rest of us have joked about for a decade: Live in a caravan.}

I'm hoping to catch the Nefesh B'Nefesh video of his charter flight tonight, but I know already that I'm going to find it more than a little surreal. For some reason, it just doesn't click that he, his amazing wife, and their two beautiful little girls have somehow pulled this off and are really going through with this - even though we've all known for years that if there was going to be someone to do it first it would be him. I'll never forget a conversation we had during our first year in Israel, when I asked him if perhaps he was moving a little too fast; his response to me was simply, "I don't know, it's possible. But perhaps you're moving a little too slow?" Once again, Groovin' is calmly moving ahead in life, taking the next step confidently but carefully, knowing exactly what he's doing and what to do if he hits a point where he doesn't.

~~~

Growing up in Cleveland, I didn't actually know Groovin' all that well during our early years. He was in a different (more charedi) school until 7th grade, and when he came to the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, he immediately took geek status with his long lanky frame and propensity to talk to himself in class. But by 8th grade, I was sitting behind him every morning on the window side of the classroom, with Deep Throat in front of him and L'il Jason to his left. By the middle of the year, we'd all settled on attending WITS for high school, and over the years, we all - along with DGEsq - became incredibly close. Groovin' and I roomed together in both our junior and senior years in WITS before moving on to OJ for our first year in Israel. Ironically, OJ was never originally in my plans; there had been another Clevelander two years ahead of us in WITS who had attended OJ a couple of years before, and one of my rabbeim surprisingly (to me) suggested that based on his success there, I would get a lot out of it as well. That strong and strong-willed young man who had grown up right near him was also extremely close to Groovin', and I'm sure that played a role in his coming to OJ as well.

After OJ, we both moved on to Lander. A couple of years later, I was married, and Groovin' was enjoying his times in Lander, in no rush to date. DeepThroat had come back to Lander to study, Li'l Jason was finishing up YU and had moved to Kew Gardens Hills, and DGEsq had gotten married and lived down the block. For the first time, all five of us lived within 3 minutes of one another, and it was awesome. A short while later, though, Groovin' "ruined" it, going out with our OJ predecessor's sister and of course, marrying her {on Super Bowl Sunday, no less!} and moving back to Cleveland. Groovin' then developed an incredible series of spreadsheets to help track all their expenses so they could start saving money and I believe he utilized that to start putting away for them to make aliyah. [As an aside, it was seeing the detail on those spreadsheets which helped spurn the Jewish Economics Survey, and Groovin's actuarial background has helped in its development. Of course, his spreadsheets were quickly made obsolete by Mint.com.]

Even with them moving, it's nice to be living in the 21st Century. Between Skype and Gmail and all the other technology we have today, odds are good that we'll be in better touch than we were even when they were living in Cleveland. It doesn't feel like they're moving to a place where we'll never see them; it's more of a feeling of "it's going to be a little harder to drop in on them than it used to be..."

I'm not sure why I'm writing this; perhaps I think that somehow this will make it click that he's really making aliyah as I'm doing this. It's odd - while it's impossible to imagine them making aliyah, it's also impossible to imagine them not making aliyah. This is such a core essence of who they are and what they're intended to do in this world. Groovin' and Classy and their girls are to a large extent the epitome of what NbN wants and what Israel needs: Bright, dedicated, reliable, amazing people who are starting out and who will help build the country in whatever way they can. That's just who they are.

If you're awake, take a few minutes and watch the NbN charter flight land. It's incredibly emotional even if you don't know a soul making the trip. In addition to Groovin's family, I believe we know at least one other family on this flight. Watch the people step off that plane and step onto the ground with that welcoming crowd... it's incredible to see. Who knows? Maybe you'll see Groovin'.

He's kind of hard to miss.

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