Soon it will be Purim, the shops have stocked up on an assortment of wigs, props, toy guns, clown noses and all the paraphernalia the best fancy dress costumes require. Hamantaschen is already being sold in droves in bakeries throughout the country. Purim is one of many nights of the year Israelis are out in the streets having fun, the difference is that they’re in costume. Alcohol is everywhere and the next day when normally people would be nursing a hangover the party continues. In Jerusalem you can’t tell the difference between orthodox and secular because everyone has taken on each other’s uniforms and is out partying in the streets.
On Channukah candle light is to be seen everywhere. The smell of a hundred different kinds of donuts fills the air and the twinkling lights from millions of candles illuminate windows from Eilat in the South to Metullah in the North. Regardless of whether they’re religious or secular young children will insist their parents celebrate the festival of lights by singing the songs, spinning the dreidel and putting the Chanukiah in the window.
Yom Kippur will see no one at work and nothing on television. There won’t be any cars driving through the streets and I’ll hear the sound of the shofar far and wide while I wait for darkness to fall and the country to awake from a day long slumber.
Here I don’t pray in Hebrew, I live in it. I don’t eat kosher I eat the food served to me in restaurants. I stand in silence for two minutes a year, once to remember the 6 million who fell and once to remember the Israelis who fell defending everything I mentioned above and a whole lot of things I didn’t. The sirens wail twice a year if things are good and a lot more if they’re not.
The menorah, the symbol of Israel dating back 2,000 years and more can be found on the cover of the dark blue passport I and all other Israelis hold. Together with two olive branches it is the symbol of an entire country and everyone in it as it has been for over 2,000 years.
When I walk down a street in my country along with other Israelis I don’t notice those people dressed in black hats and tsit tsit because I notice them so often.
I don’t distinguish between those who are allowed to get married here and those who aren’t because there’s no difference between us.
I don’t ask for time off for Jewish holidays, I am given time off for national ones.
I won’t teach my children Jewish history they’ll learn the history of Israel at school.
I don’t have to worry that one day my culture and my religion won’t be good enough for my government or that we’ll be forced from our homes. In fact if anyone does try to force us from our homes I’ll take my place with rifle and pack alongside all of the other Israelis to defend it.
Zionism’s dead, it died the moment Israel was resurrected. It died when the 2,000 year old hope of becoming a free people in a free land went from being a dream to a reality willed into existence.
I’m Israeli, I carry a blue passport with a menorah and two olive branches printed on it in gold. I carry the symbol of Israel for thousands of years on every official paper I own.
I’m an Israeli.