Shifra Silverberg
Shifra Silverberg

A Love Letter to my Land

I found you before I knew what I was searching for.

In sand filled cities with dust covering your gates of survival, I looked at you and wondered how I could love something I’ve never met before.


A Love Letter to my Land.

You will always be my first love,

My last love,

My largest love.

I didn’t understand love before seeing you, meeting you, knowing you.

How love could be so all consuming, fire and air, and water and earth, all at the same time.

כל מקום שאני הולך, אני הולך לארץ ישראל

ר נחמן מברסלב

My heart will always find you, will always long for you, will always sing your songs and your poems.

The dance between heaven and earth.

I walked through your deserts and your valleys,

I felt the wind on my face at הר ארבל,

And the rain on my feet in your old city walls.

I touched your kerosene, felt your zatar stick to my fingers, and your tumeric stain my skin.

I tasted your lachmagine and kebabs,

felt the sticky sweetness from your dates and sfinj.

I felt the rush, the waves of screams and noise during your hafganot.

Saw the city in swarms of pain and anger as Solomon Tekah was murdered.

I sat on your busses on Election Day,

sitting through the heat of the traffic as your cities filled with people coming to vote for the first, second, third, and forth elections.

Sometimes and somehow still showing up to make their voices heard.

The love of your people, my Israel.

I decided I would make your cities my home.

I would make your valleys and streams the places my children grow up in.

In your yeshuvim, in your kibbutzim,

I first found my soul in a bare thred farmhouse, dancing and singing Kabbalat Shabbat.

ישיש אליך אלוהיך

I touched the green gates of chevron, within מערת המכפלה, finally finding,

finding, finding…

I’m still searching for the pieces of myself I left there.

Interweaving my history and my future into the walls of my fairyland house,

a home build on Torah and Geulah Jews.

In the south of Israel, where the Jews walked through to find themselves before they could find their land.

To watch the generations of Jews coming home.

Standing here as the waves of people wash over me.

The light of your courtyard at סליחות, so packed it’s almost like I can’t breathe

הקפות שניות at הר המור, with arms waving, waving, waving…

almost like my soul has transcended.

I am more than myself, than my body, than my soul.

שבועות.

עולה לרגל to the כותל המערבי

One day to הר הבית

As much as I have chosen my land, my land has chosen me.

She has chosen me from millions of half hearted wanderers,

pulling me from the streets, from the ash covered cobblestone.

She brought me home to the city of stone and gold,

a diamond wrapped in valleys of rings of loss, love, and redemption.

She has loved me before I ever knew her,

calling me in whispers of a language I didn’t yet understand.

She passed me love notes and fresh morning dew.

As pulled me into her cities, her gravestones whispering songs underneath her wedding halls.

She has chosen me from millions of foreign speaking wanderers, pulling me from the world I’ve known,

to bring me into the cherry orchard of my history and my future.

Like a sigh, like a long-lost lover, she has pulled my hand and brought me home.

There are a lot of different type of Jews. There’s the political Jew and the social justice Jew, fighting for rights and freedom of the masses. There’s the Chessed Jew and the not-really-my-grandmother-but-sure-feels-like-it Jew, donating time and cookies to every hospital and family they know. There’s the chassidic Jew and the pants wearing Jew. There’s no one right way or one right stripe of being a Jew.

And i’m the Eretz Yisrael Jew. The one who came at 17 and never really left. The one who doesn’t vacation in Italy or France or Cyprus, because it really hurts too much to leave. I’m the type of Jew who left family and friends, the language and the culture that I knew, for the illogical feeling of returning home to a land I never really knew. The Eretz Yisrael Jew. The zionistic Jew, the love affair with Israel Jew. The Aliyah Jew.

My Aliyahversary is coming up soon and I couldn’t help but share this. Couldn’t help but feel like crying and singing and dancing. Home.

Sometimes I really do forget just how blessed I am.

My love letter to my land

With so much love,

Shifra

About the Author
Shifra Silverberg currently lives in Jerusalem and is a Tanach major at Michlelet Orot. She’s passionate about improving women’s learning and all things connected to Israel. You’d most likely find her cuddling on the couch with a good book.
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