I have a friend who was living in E”Y and is now moving back to America. I mentioned to him that it might be a good idea to keep an item or two in E”Y, so that he still has a connection to the land. Before I returned after spending time learning in E”Y, I left a set of Mishna Brurah there with a friend. Eventually I will end up reclaiming it. I also have a few items that I can’t seem to allow myself to get rid of that in their own strange way allow me to have a connection to E”Y (even if it’s just in my head).
For example, I have several siddurim from my time in there that I will open and daven from several times during the year (especially during the Shalosh Regolim). I have my old combat boots, that I took with me to E”Y on my high school NCSY summer tour in 1987 (when/where I became observant). I bought these in Wichita at an army/navy store and I still use them once in a while. They really are not great for the snow in Chicago, since they have metal “vents” for breathing, but I can’t let myself get rid of them. I have an old “kartis” or bus pass that I laminated and use as a bookmark. Then there’s the spoon. Ah, yes… the spoon!
The spoon rocks! It was made in E”Y and I bought it in Machane Yehuda. It’s sort of a teaspoon and is about four inches long. Since buying it in 1990 I’ve used the spoon for stirring coffee. I use to keep it in my pocket so that whenever I had coffee, I wouldn’t have to bother with a flimsy plastic stirrer. After getting married and having our first child, it became the unofficial cereal spoon for our kids before they were big enough to use the adult silverware. My children even refer to it as the “Eretz Yisrael spoon” or “Abba’s special spoon”. Of course, when I bought it, I never envisioned that I would have it for so long and that my own kids would be using it.
Book, photos, artwork, magnets, or other items remind me of where I have been, but in truth, these are just display pieces. It’s those things that I can use in my everyday life that really remind me that I need to connect to something or someplace.