How wonderful it is to be back in Eretz Yisrael.

Ever since I moved back here over four years ago, I have spent time traveling and revisiting the places of my childhood, youth and early adulthood. Having been born here in the early days of the state, it was the young Israel that I remembered all the years of my absence, the land of a people who toiled and worked hard to develop the desert, build an infrastructure, and not only survive but thrive in the face of many challenges. I remember going on school trips in old busses and trucks, trekking through our history and its glorious past and falling in love with this Land with every step I took.

Life, however, had other plans for me. It pushed me out of here to pursue big dreams. It gave me a compass that led me to various foreign lands, exotic and fascinating places. It put me in touch with many wonderful people and placed some amazing experiences on my path.

But I never forgot this Land, this place I call Home.

I gathered and collected all that I came across, all the memories, the wisdom that I gained, the knowledge and the lessons that I learned. I packaged them neatly, tied a nice ribbon around them, saved them all and waited for the day when I came back home to share them with my People and through them with the world.

The most wonderful opportunity to achieve this blessing fell into my lap when I was recently employed as an English teacher to native English speakers. Luckily, my classes are classified as “Excellency classes” and naturally all my students are bright and talented. When I first walked into them, I told my students:

“Each one of you is brilliant and each holds the potential to be a Nobel Prize recipient in one field or another. My task is to prepare you for the ceremony. That means not only knowing about your area of expertise. It also includes knowing about your heritage, your past, your role in this world and the direction of your future.”

It is through those collected experiences and through that wisdom that I learned to appreciate and love my Land even more. I have been handed a better, more objective yardstick to measure it compared to the other wonderfully beautiful lands that I set foot in. Its historical and archeological wealth compared to that of other places suddenly magnified its beauty, its significance and its value. Its fight for survival compared to many of the other places I lived in and visited where many seem to rest on their laurels, where each managed, at least partially, to sit under their “vine and their date” that made me realize more than ever what a strong, tenacious and resilient nation we are.

As I continue to travel in this G-d blessed piece of earth and resume reconnecting with my roots in this Land, I realize more and more that my fate is intertwined with it and always has been. I learn that no matter how far away and to which corner of the world I traveled and wandered, these roots were always in me, shaping my every move and every direction of my outlook.

My Land, Eretz Yisrael, it is your flourishing tradition of universality, progress and rich humanitarian values that have nurtured my wings, my quest for knowledge and the desire to make the world a better place. It is however, my roots in you that have kept me safe and strong through some powerful storms and eventually brought me back Home.

Israel, may G-d bless you forever and ever.