Standing on the precipice of fulfilling the Zionist dream is a daunting but exciting place to be. Immigrating to Israel this week is not only the realisation of my dreams, but the dreams of many generations of ancestors who longed for the east and yearned to return to Jerusalem.
It is a dream. Dreamers are idealists, optimists and visionaries. Although some may be quick to discard such ambitions, the State of Israel was built on the foundation of idealists, optimists and visionaries in spite of great adversity. Difficult times in the nascent State of Israel were the norm.
David Ben Gurion famously stated, a decade after the state’s establishment, that “in Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” The modern day successes of the country are a far cry from the tower and stockades of the 1930s and a testament to the great sacrifices made by the very first pioneers.
These are currently difficult times for the country that has a special home in our hearts and, during the past few weeks, an immovable place in our thoughts. Even in the diaspora, the brave soldiers on the front line are our brothers, sisters, parents and children. Every rocket only strengthens our resolve to become part of the Jewish state.
I am honoured to be making aliyah with a large group of similarly strong-minded individuals from across the world through the Garin Tzabar programme. A bed, soon to be home, waits for me at the idyllic Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan overlooking the Sea of Galilee. An olive green uniform and black boots beckon in a matter of months. My bags are packed, I’m ready to go. Second thoughts? None.
If the decision to move to Israel was at times difficult and confusing, the choice to commit to a full army service was elementary. I simply could not reconcile the idea of living in the security of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem without having contributed to the fighting force that renders that life possible. To put on that uniform for the very first time will cause my emotions to swell and represent an immensely proud day.
A one-way ticket to Ben Gurion Airport and three heavy suitcases signal the direction of a truly life-changing moment. A new life. Not necessarily a ‘better’ life, but a different life. A more personal, meaningful existence. Finally, I will be a citizen of the only homeland of the Jewish people. A homeland too often united by tragedy, but a homeland of hopes and dreams that represents an alluring anomaly in the Jewish story.
Leaving the comfort of everyday life in England for the struggles of a young country that sadly still sends its teenage sons and daughters to the horrors of the battlefield is no easy decision. It will be far from painless to leave family, friends and a prospective career behind. Life is comfortable here, unlike other parts of the continent. Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Despite its painful troubles, Israel is a truly enchanting country. The landscape is mellow in the north but unforgiving in the south. Its citizens always have a seat waiting for you at their table but are brusque in their everyday approach. This beautiful strip of land, with waves lapping at its shores and enemies swelling at its borders, has a magic spell. And I’m bound.