Why are you still there?
Someone asked me this question today. I posted an article about the Arab hatred and the violence surging here in the State of Israel. He asked, “Why are you still there?!?!?!?!?” I told him I could give him quite a lengthy answer, but did he want me to? He replied, “No need. I know. Its home.”
But the question has been nagging at me all day. Why am I still here? What keeps me here when the whole world says I shouldn’t be?
I live in Gush Etzion, part of the land liberated in 1967. The Hills of Judea. The usual rhetoric says I am an occupier. Jews living in our ancestral heartland are occupiers? Go figure. In fact the ENTIRE Middle East is on fire, because I might someday build a porch in Gush Etzion.
I’ll let you in a little secret. The Arab Israeli conflict is not about the “disputed territories.” They were trying to kill us before 1967, when interestingly enough, there were no Palestinians. It’s about Jews living, breathing, existing.
It’s about Gush Etzion, Tel Aviv, Eilat, Haifa, Netanya and of course, Jerusalem. Jerusalem, our eternal capital. Jerusalem, the home of our Temple, the Beit Hamikdash. Jerusalem, the city that holds our history, our dreams, our faith, and our destiny.
We made Aliyah nine years ago, just after the second war in Lebanon ended. In the few weeks before we left Boston, the war was still raging. Quite a few people asked a similar question to the one I received today: People asked: “Are you still going?” I answered instantly, “Of course we’re going! How could we not??”
I had spent a year in Tel Aviv University. I'd known I needed to come back. Thankfully I'd married someone who felt the same way.
Life got in the way a little bit, but we knew when our son was turning eight, it was time to come, that time was of the essence. Younger children, generally, have a smoother adjustment. He was almost nine a year later when we landed in Israel. Our daughters were six and three.
I have never looked back. Not once. Not for a second. Not ever.
Since the day I landed and my feet touched the ground at Ben Gurion Airport, an invisible, but no less substantial, umbilical cord connected me to this land. When I leave Israel, the cord stretches, keeping me connected and nourished, though I may be far away. From the four corners of the earth, the Jews have come home. Read about the ingathering of the exiles in the Book of Prophets, it’s all there and my family is living it.
I thank The Almighty every single day for bringing us home. Every step we take is a giant leap for the Jewish people. The Jewish people who suffered the horrors of exile for almost two thousand years. The Jewish people who yearned, prayed, and begged to return to its homeland.
”Why are you still there?” The world is against us. A savage people yearns for our blood. A world is upside down and tries to erase our history and our rightful claim on our land.
Does the latest embodiment of Amalek, the ancient nation who sought our destruction, really think it can destroy us? Does the world really think we will leave? Every nation, every single one which pursued our destruction throughout the ages is gone. Destroyed, never to be heard from again. Somehow the Jewish people survived.
In its rightful land, the Jewish nation is thriving. Which country doesn’t use Israeli technology? What city, in its hour of need, has not been saved by Israeli doctors and field hospitals? In a section of the world filled with barbarity and savagery, Israel is a beacon of morality. An oasis of advancement and culture.
From here Torah flows forth and strengthens us. The majority of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah are connected to the land of Israel. A Jew can only fulfill them here.
My children speak the ancient Hebrew language, now invigorated, the way I speak English. We know Jews of every color and creed. It’s a melting pot of Jewish cultures.
My son is now in Mechina. The preparatory year before his army service. People in the States ask me if I’m scared. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. I’m a mother after all. But I’m proud, so very proud, and I’m grateful.
Jews couldn’t protect themselves for two millennia. The IDF has a power from within, a strength and a shield from above. Tough times have descended upon us, but we will prevail.
"Why are you still there?" I’m living the dream! The real question is, why would I leave?