Ever since I was little Israel always seemed like a magical place to me. I learned about how G-d promised Abraham and the Jews an eternal homeland. It warmed my heart. I saw the love of the country in the eyes of my Grandparents as they would light up at the very mention of Israel. Every time I would pray I would be reminded of the unique holiness that was inherent in the land and I yearned to go. I was fortunate to have summer visits and a year of seminary here and I tried hard to breathe it all in while I could. I would often think about all the Jewish people who for generations dreamed of getting here but could not.

It baffled my mind why there was no mass Aliyah from the States. We are a free people able to return home. HOME, who doesn’t want to go home? I did not get it. I thought I was missing something. Was there some secret everyone kept as to why we couldn’t go? There must have been a compelling reason that I was being shielded from that held us back.

After asking many people I received several answers. Often times people got into the differences of opinion on whether we are obligated or not in the form of a Mitzvah. That’s all well and good I thought, but what difference does that make? Don’t you want to go home? “Ah, but Aliza, how will we earn a living and what about our kids adjusting or our elderly parents?” Ok, I hear that, that’s not easy and so if we are not commanded to go, why sacrifice. I get that.

What saddens me greatly is now when I speak to people and I am told that they could conceivably make Aliyah as those compelling reasons don’t apply to them. What stops them are things like “Israelis are gruff”  ….”the government is difficult”….”there are only homogeneous neighborhoods that don’t fit Americans”….or simply familiarity “of English, red brick, squirrels, oak and maple” that they can’t part with. 

I try not to judge, really I try hard, but l simply don’t get it. Why is studying the bible, praying for Israel repeatedly and an understanding of the value of Israel as our homeland, not compelling enough to override those reasons?

It makes me sad because I want to be home with the entire family. I want all of my brothers and sisters to want to come home. I wish they would feel the love and devotion to Israel that Israel deserves. If we all returned and worked on making it the place we want to live in, it could be that place.