I'm packing up boxes and cleaning up from our goodbye party, but I still can't believe it's true. It hasn't hit me yet - that we're actually leaving, that we're moving to another city, that I won't be taking the 400 bus home every day. I've lived in Giv'at Shmuel for most of my adult life. Detroit is my hometown, but Giv'at Shmuel will always be the place where I grew up. I spent too much time in Bar Ilan, lived in every neighborhood here (does Hashaked count as the new side?), and made more friends than I knew what to do with.
Giv'at Shmuel has been more than a home to me. I've been an observer, taking note of the gradual changes and twists in the community. I saw it grow from just a few apartments to streets and blocks of English speakers. I watched Camp Bar Ilan jump from 6 members to 100 members to 3,303 members (as of this moment). I was taken aback when not every Anglo attended Open Mic Night, or when I'd meet someone from Giv'at Shmuel who I didn't recognize. It's been incredible watching others discover the place that I love so much.
This community is so vibrant, so alive, so young, so powerful. There is so much passion, friendship, laughter, intellect at every Shabbat meal. (There's also a lot of cheap alcohol and Cards Against Humanity, but that's all part of the package.) You can be whoever you want to be here. There's so much diversity in the population - which sometimes causes rifts, but we work through it, delete some Facebook comments, and grow together as a community.
Reflecting back on my time here, I realize that I've become many versions of myself these past few years. I was the shy Oleh in Wolfson dorms, so happy to find my first English speaking friend (shoutout to Talia :D) . I was the social butterfly at every party, making the rounds and befriending anyone I found myself standing next to. I was the confident Agudah rep, giving tours of campus and speaking at orientation (thanks to Rachel & Dovid). I was the lazy and aimless student, switching degrees every year and skipping classes to stay home and watch TV with my roommate (love to Zahava & Cougartown). I was the dauntless college girl, dancing at clubs and bars in Tel Aviv and feeling my freedom. I was a serious debater at Shabbat meals, advocating Aliyah and Zionism over the materialism of corporate America. I was a madricha on a gap year program, a role model for girls who needed to find themselves. I was a newlywed, and then a graduate, and then a "professional", making the daily 9 to 5 commute to Jerusalem.
And the crazy thing is that during all of these reincarnations, I never felt like I didn't belong.
I know it seems like I've just been writing about me, but me and Givshmu (Gila, it's on a blog so it's gotta be a thing) have been tied up in each other's lives for so long, it's hard to separate myself from the city. I will truly miss living here. After saying goodbye to so many of the people who have impacted my life in the past few years tonight, I realize more than ever that I will always carry this place with me. You have all had a part in creating me. You have all had a part in who I am right now.
I'm excited for a new adventure, and we can't wait for our new life in Jerusalem to begin. New memories to make, new relationships to build, new ways to impact the world around us. We hope you keep in touch, and come visit us soon :)