Into the unknown

By Craig Nudelman

Into the unknown’ is the title of the main song for the hit children’s animated movie, Frozen 2

I won’t go into why Elsa sings it, but it does ring true for what the Nudelmans are facing now. My two daughters, Jessica and Livi, and I are being thrust into the unknown. We, unlike Gabi, have never been to Australia, let alone Sydney, and are emigrating there for the foreseeable future. We don’t have a permanent place to stay and I don’t have a job, yet. However, it will be an exciting adventure.  

I don’t want to repeat what I wrote about in my last column, about not giving a f*ck and believing that everything will be fine. But I really do believe we’re well-prepared for what’s to come. After all, we’ve faced unknown futures before. The Covid pandemic readied us for this. The whole world was thrust into uncharted territories. We had to wear masks and keep on sanitising, work, and get taught from home, live under the strictest (and sometimes bizarre) laws, and try to maintain bonds with our families, friends, and colleagues. It was a crazy time, but most of us made it through. Who would have thought in February 2020 that we would have more than 750 days of a national state of disaster by April 2022. Loadshedding, the water crisis in Cape Town, and other disasters have made us rethink how we can live our lives in unstable times without going into full crisis mode.

So, we will arrive in Sydney with a little knowledge of what to do, full crisis mode mostly averted. Our daily routines and schedules will be disrupted; landing after 27 hours of travel will completely mess up our circadian rhythms. We know about the importance of routine from numerous scientific studies. According to an article in Online Psychology Degree Guide, routine helps us accomplish our goals, eat well, and keep sleep schedules on track. However, the article goes on to discuss that while travel and adventure may disrupt routines, this can actually help our brains! Adventuring can improve cognition and reactivates our mental reward system. Can you believe that it even helps with anxiety disorders?!

As a family, we’ll be learning about the wide world in a diverse and cosmopolitan ‘big’ city. We’ll meet new people, make new friends, try new foods (hopefully the girls will open their minds to trying them!) and be pushed into the outdoors. We’ll start going on public transport, see how different people live, and experience a new lifestyle. 

This can be related to Pesach, which is just around the corner. The Israelites had no idea what was next when they left Egypt. They had been slaves for roughly 210 years, according to the sages, and so freedom was an entirely foreign concept. When Moses eventually leads them to the Red Sea the Israelites don’t know what to do. In front of them is a massive body of water, behind them Pharoah’s army. The Midrash says that they wailed with despair as the waters did not automatically part.

But along came Nachshon, a prince from the tribe of Judah, who stepped into the unknown. He entered the water up to his nostrils, and only then did the waters part, allowing the Israelites through to their freedom in the desert. While in the desert they also moaned and groaned to Moses and often wanted to go back to Egypt as we see when, tired of manna, they ask for meat and fish, cucumbers, watermelons, leeks, onions, and garlic (Numbers 11:4-6). Ultimately, those who had been slaves in Egypt did not make it into the land of Israel. They were not ready to go into the great unknown and could not let go of  their previous lives. 

Although Australia is not the land of milk and honey, it will provide all four of us with new opportunities and challenges. We will be able to grow if we embrace the change. Calvin and Hobbes, the wonderful and often metaphorically enlightening series of cartoons, has this wonderful quote about change. Calvin says: “Change is invigorating! If you don’t accept new challenges you become complacent and lazy. Your life atrophies!” 

Our forebearers who came to the Cape in the late 1800s and early 1900s really took a leap of faith. Life wasn’t pretty in the Pale of Settlements, and although they had heard about the ‘Goldene Medina’, they didn’t have Facebook, Instagram, and instant communication to learn how great or difficult the Cape or the Transvaal were. They were pioneers and leapt into the unknown. Most made a good life for themselves. 

Like these forebearers, our adventurous spirit remains, and we will go into the unknown, saying good goodbyes and happy hellos. May you and your families have a Chag Pesach Sameach. See you on the other side of the Indian Ocean.

Craig is a writer, Jewish professional, and tour guide extraordinaire. His deep bass voice has graced stages, synagogues and studios. He is an obedient husband, father to two spectacular daughters, and is known for dad jokes and trivia. 

• Published in the April 2023 Edition – Click here to start reading.

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