But, why?

Friends and family,

I am making aliyah, simply put, because of Zionism. In the late 1960s, Hanan Porat wrote that we are writing the next chapter of the Bible.  But writing the Bible has never been the role, nor the purpose of the Jewish nation.  Indeed only a number of specific individuals in our history wrote (or continue to write) the Bible.

The Bible is meant to be read, interpreted, commented upon, deconstructed and then reconstructed, and most importantly, lived.  If the founders of modern Zionism and the heroes of our early wars wrote the next chapter, I feel that it is up to us to be the living interpretation of this chapter.

Living here is not the right decision for everyone; one can surely live Torah values and strengthen Jewish identity anywhere in the world.

But after working in Israel for the past 17 months, it has become increasingly clear to me that I want to make my life here, that I believe in the Jewish state, and that I want to contribute to make it the best that it can be.  That the complexities of our porous borders- albeit more porous to some than others- make me think more deeply and care more passionately than most anything else.  I would not have been led to this place without the mix of my American values, Jewish upbringing, exceptional education, supportive family, and deep passion for Israel to be a light onto nations.  It did not come automatically, nor necessarily intuitively.

And for that I owe a lifetime of gratitude to my parents, siblings, friends, educators, and family.  For modeling your commitment to Judaism, friendship, and family each in your own way.  And for supporting Jewish life in America and abroad; a task that is increasingly more important and continuously inspirational.

Now that I am here, at this place, I grapple with the question that every Jew should ask in his or her own way.  How do we use the tradition of our past and the privilege of our present to inform the complexity of our future? Right now Israel is the only place for me to figure it out.

Jerusalem is a marketplace of Jewish continuity, and I want to be able to run my own stand in the hub of it all.

I’m energized knowing that this this year in Jerusalem is just the beginning.

This is a slightly edited version of an email I sent to some friends and family as I waited for take-off on a plane to Israel yesterday.  I have been encouraged to share my words more widely explaining a little bit of why I made this journey.

About the Author
Sara Miriam Liben holds a B.A in Sociology from Columbia University and a B.A in Women and Gender Studies in Judaism from The Jewish Theological Seminary. She is interested in nonprofit consulting and creating a pluralistic Jewish future in Israel and the Diaspora. An avid coffee drinker, she welcomes you to continue the conversation over a cup of joe in Jerusalem where she currently resides.
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