When I made aliyah 18 years ago, I knew I was coming home.
Home, because this is our land from ancient times, as documented in Torah. It takes a particular sort of blindness to fail to perceive the hand of God in our return after 2,000 years of exile. No other people in the world has ever done this! Our roots here go back more than three millennia and today we have the opportunity to fulfill our destiny.
Home, because the modern state of Israel is a Jewish state in its essence. We operate on Jewish time and according to Jewish practices. This means recognition of the sanctity of the Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and the fostering of kosher eateries.
And there is much, much more. For example, people who loose immediate family are granted, by law, a seven day absence from work in which to sit shiva (a Jewish mourning practice). While restaurants are permitted to erect temporary sukkahs on the sidewalk to accommodate religious clients over Sukkot.
Home, because we acknowledge our Jewish soul in a hundred ways:
On Independence Day we celebrate not only with fireworks, but with a Bible Contest for young people. Extraordinary.
We hold military ceremonies in front of the Kotel. This is not simply an ancient archeological structure: It is a remnant of the retaining wall that held up the mount on which the Temple stood. It is profound — this linking of the national institution most deeply respected in modern Israel with the religious practices that once defined our national connection to the Almighty.
There are classes in Judaism taught under the umbrella of the army, which provides opportunities for soldiers who are not legally Jewish to convert.
I think perhaps my granddaughter said it best, years ago, when she was a young girl: Here in Israel, she declared, you can feel the kedusha (the holiness) coming up from the land right through your shoes. I was astounded at her perceptiveness.
And now along comes Yair Lapid, a major player in the Blue & White party who aspires to be prime minister. His rallying cry this past week: the need for a “secular, liberal” government in Israel.
It has occurred to me that I might feel sorry for him, because he is so out of touch with our deepest truths: he is lost.
But mostly I am furious. There are almost 200 nations in the world. There is only Israel. One Jewish state.
Her uniqueness and her essence must be celebrated and guarded.