My Israel isn’t a video, a list of platitudes strung together, or “my homeland”. My Israel isn’t this foreign concept I pray to three times daily, another passport I carry around, the place where I spent my first year of college.

My Israel is middle-aged cab drivers giving me advice and offering to find me a husband. My Israel is the Israeli soldier’s arm on my shoulder at The Kotel dancing with the family we have just met. My Israel is Savta’s kibbe. My Israel is being a beach bum in Tel-Aviv and being reminded by the merchant to say a bracha on my ice cream. My Israel is riding on a bus full of Jews that says “Chag Sameach” and getting invited for Shabbat just because. My Israel is the screaming of Shuk merchants, haggling, locally grown produce. My Israel is hiking, when hanging out means climbing over mountains together. My Israel is crying on Har Herzl, a never ending story of sacrifice for survival. My Israel is waving flags in the streets of Yerushalayim and dancing, no pledge of allegiance necessary. My Israel is more than just Yom Ha’Atzmaut.