They say you become an Israeli citizen when you receive your Teudat Zehut  at the airport. Truth is, it’s not that easy. You become an Israeli citizen little by little…as different experiences start shifting your mindset, your identity,  and your feelings towards the country.

I experienced one of these shifts today and am left with the satisfaction of being  one step closer to the finish line.

Trecking through Shuk Machane Yhuda, around 5:30 in the afternoon, and there is a hype in the air. Visitors hustle and bustle and the shop keepers scream in their coarse voices

“ירקות!!!! פרות!! מכירים זולים“.
The rich smell of spices wafts through the stalls, colours of strange fruit  jump out at me and there is a distinct tune of some new Israeli pop song blasting from a street down.

I have frequented this market many times, but I am always left with a feeling of wonder at the colorful tapestry of cultures  and customs that collide here with ease.

Today, I purposefully dressed to fit the part of ‘real Israeli’. Newly bought ‘sandalim’, backpack and messy hair bun in tact.

Strutting with confidence to the till with my packet of spices  in hand I say in my most convincing Israeli accent,
‘כמה זה עולה?’

The shopkeeper looks down at me, a young, charismatic  man.. and with one sentence, crushes every last remnant of my self-assurance .’For you sweetie only 17 shek! And I’ll even put it in a special box so you can take it on the plane when you fly home!’

‘Excuse me’, I respond with little delay, forgetting my promise to only speak Hebrew for the day, ‘I’m not going back anywhere,  I live here, this is my home!!’

I know he meant no harm, and I know my Israeli accent leaves much to be desired, but my emotions flood forward with no warning.

It was just then…as I muttered those few words.. that I felt a tectonic plate shift on the universe of my life.

‘This is my home’

And you know what, just like that, I got one step closer to the finish line.