Thursday, May 12, 2016

Looking Back On Independence Day

There is one day more than any other throughout the year that I miss being in Israel and sharing in the joy that the people of the country has to offer… Yom Ha'atzmaut. Every year I can’t help but think about all the people that we met and others that we got to know through the internet during our Aliyah experiment. Many of those people I am still in contact with to this day, nearly five years after the fact, and I enjoy seeing the lives that they have built for themselves in our homeland.

The images of that time remain vivid in my mind. While it seems but an instant in our lives, the moments are more ingrained in my being that many other that have happened before or since. I can recall the uneven stones along the sidewalk as we walked to old city. The warmth radiating from under our feet as the sun disappeared beyond the ancient hills.

I recall many of the moments of getting lost in the alleys and streets both in the daylight and well past the setting of the sun with only the faintest of sounds echoing between the buildings. However, most enduring are the moments when we were welcomed into the homes of others and into the community around us. While we didn’t fully process the companionship that was shared with us during those moments and meals, it is something that remains with me to this day. Only in Israel can you be welcomed in such a way.

Of course, what has become more poignant now is the memory of my wife and me sitting on a bench along King George Street discussion our return to the states. It was at this moment when we finally realized that we were ready to start a family. More accurately, with all the changes that were happening and things that were beyond our control, we realized that there was never going to be the perfect time and decided that it was time. In the end we were a little delayed but that was the moment when we made the decision to start a family.

However, and most will agree with this sentiment, there are two moments that supersede all others when I think of Israel. Both of these experiences were actually on our first trip to Israel during our honeymoon nearly seven years ago. They happened in relatively quick succession the first occurring when we turned the corner walking along the wall around old city (the Ramparts Walk) and saw the Kotel for the first time. We continued toward the wall wide eyes and when I laid my hand and head against the cool stone, the world disappeared around me. I will never forget that feeling.

So, on this Independence Day I celebrate the people, the land, the history, and the faith that makes Israel not just the Holy Land but our Homeland. And when we return it will be as a family and I hope to find that same bench where we had the discussion that would eventually result in our having a son. And, most importantly, I look forward to experiencing Jerusalem and Israel as a whole as a father and I can’t wait to introduce our son to his homeland. Am Yisrael Chai!