Here’s a l’chaim to sandy toes and salty hair; to watching the scenery outside a bus window change from lush greenery to barren wasteland; here’s to barely sleeping in a bunk bed in an overcrowded hostel, to stumbling through the noisy shuk.

Here’s to sunrise hikes up Masada, to rafting down the Jordan River, to wine tasting in the Golan Heights, to halvah and hookah on the shores of the Kinneret.

Here’s to the deliciously warm water of the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s to tchina on EVERYTHING. Here’s to finding a flower in the middle of the desert and to realizing for the first time how many stars dot the sky, far away from the pollution of city lights.

Here’s to the rolling hills of Judea, to the olive groves of Samaria, to long, flowing dresses, to dancing at Haredi weddings. Here’s to pomegranates and tie-dye and passing by gorgeous graffiti on a bike ride. Here’s to messy curls and freckled shoulders from too much sun.

Here’s to Hebrew and Arabic and Russian and Amharic all being spoken on a single street corner. Here’s to bonfires outside of Bedouin tents and to morning camel rides. Here’s to rainbow flags dotting the Tel Aviv streets and to Shabbat candles lighting up the windows of Jerusalem apartments.

Here’s to soldiers in green sharing a cigarette after a long day. Here’s to moshavim and kibbutzim, to Baha’i and Druzim. Here’s to the Zionist dream. Here’s to proud Jews, to proud Arabs, to proud people living in this kaleidoscope of a country.

Here’s to the beautiful little moments that are just so incredibly Israel.