My parents landed in Israel today after a long trip from New York City, where they and I reside.
They flew across the pond on El Al in seats proving a bit extra room for comfort’s sake and landed in Tel Aviv. They are now in the country founded by my fellow Jews to be a state of their own, to be a respite from anti-Semitism and the persecution that has followed our people from destination to destination.
My mother’s father raised money for Israel back in the day. My mother did too, when I was an infant. We have Israel in our blood. Now my parents are in the country they always dreamed of going to, the country they’ve supported and become frustrated with and loved and chastised and argued with and remained with through all those decades. They are in a big city, Tel Aviv … perhaps one that my maternal grandfather couldn’t have dreamed of when he, as an infant, was gathered with most of the rest of his family in the Ukraine area, way back in the early part of the 20th century, to escape to the United States, fleeing the pogroms and hatred that had threatened to wipe them out.
My parents are now in a place where that won’t happen. They are now in a state that provides Jews with a refuge. In some places in the world, Jews are still in danger. In Israel, too, there are fears, and there is violence, but there is also hope and strength and the desire to stand fast against opposition, to grow in the midst of political conflict. There is the knowledge that other people of the same religion, the same culture, are with them. There is the understanding that a people who have been so spread out for so many centuries are now back together. There is the feeling that this is home. That Israel is home, another home, a second home … and to many a first home, an only home. A land of cities and beaches, of religious sites and ancient buildings. A land where King David once walked, where the Hasmoneans once held court. A land where there are still dialogues and conversations about prayer, about levels of faith. A land that offers the opportunity to have those conversations. A land where some people go too far and others not far enough.
A land where Jews have the freedom to be free and not be branded or tattooed or forced to wear yellow stars. A land named Israel. And my parents are in it right now.
I’m jealous of them. I’ve never been and have wanted to visit for a long time. I have friends who live in Israel. I have relatives who have gone and said it was wonderful. Someday, I will go. My wife and I will tread a similar path to my parents’ and revel in the hot weather, the hummus in the restaurants, the blossoms on the olive trees and those old, well-worn streets in Jerusalem. Perhaps we will visit the Western Wall and leave a note. Maybe we will float on our backs in the Dead Sea.
Whatever we do, it will be in the footsteps of my parents, who have been there before us. They are our predecessors and our pioneers. They helped make it happen, my mother and her grandfather; through their help, Israel came to be. Survived. Thrived.
They are in a place they helped create. In my opinion, there are few greater joys than that.
So my parents landed in Israel, and here am I, dreaming of going myself. I hope they are safe. I hope they are happy. I think it will be a successful trip, as I measure success in the amount of enjoyment a holiday brings, as well as the desire, once it’s over, to come back in the future. I believe my parents will have that desire and may return one of these days. Because it is another home for them, the source of their molecules. We, as a people, originated from there. My parents now have returned.
And I have never been as proud of them before as I am now.