Aliza Lipkin
Aliza Lipkin

No more negativity: The beauty of Israel

(All photos, courtesy Aliza Lipkin)
(All photos, courtesy Aliza Lipkin)

It’s that time of the year again!

You know when you love so much it hurts? When only the light in your eyes and excitement in your voice can attest to the enormity of emotion that is larger than words. When you feel empty and lost without the object of your love. When you hold your breath until united.

For me, that is Israel.

That is why it is exceedingly painful when I hear disparaging words about my love. Over the years, I have heard much criticism of Israel. Whether it is or isn’t legit is irrelevant to me. It hurts. While there are numerous reasons to love Israel, my love has transcended reason. I have bonded my heart and soul to her and there is no going back.

* * *

I wrote the above in an old blog post. In past years, I made a pledge to mention something every day of the week of Parshat Shelach that I love about Israel. This was done in an effort to do my part in making a tikkun (correction) for the sin of the spies, whose story appears in this week’s parsha. I did that again this week and hope not to have any reason to do it again next year.

Day 1 

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, this year I managed to take a short trip north. I immediately fell in love with Achziv Beach as soon as I saw it. It is an attractive beachfront park with extensive picnic facilities and tent camping options. The views of the Mediterranean are exquisite!

Excavations have unearthed a Canaanite city, a road station in early Roman times, Jewish living in what they referred to as Kheziv and Gesiv, and a Crusaders village with a castle and much more

It is a must-see that will take your breath away!

Day 2

“Food glorious food!”

It’s not just falafel and shwarma anymore!

Not that there’s anything wrong with that (I love me a laffa).

Tickle me pink when my problem of the moment is to choose where to eat on my night out!

Daaaaaamn the restaurants in Israel know how to keep you coming back!

I whittled my post down to four restaurants, but the choices seem limitless.

Come to Israel, come eat with friends and you’ll sing the song of satisfaction guaranteed!

Day 3

I’m not gonna lie to you, I was very nervous about my family’s medical care when I made aliyah. All my concerns slowly faded as I went through many different experiences in Israel’s medical system.

In the first year, I gave birth to my first sabra, and since then have been blessed with twins. My medical care was top-notch.

I had a great experience with Tipat Chalav (well-baby care) and I continue to be impressed with the healthcare that I get from my fantastic “HMO.” I was shocked at how amazing socialized medicine can be.

I could give countless examples, but I want to focus on my father-in-law. He made aliyah literally a day before they stopped letting people in the country due to the coronavirus. He is 90 and has many medical issues. He has been accommodated with various Zoom doctor appointments, home visits for blood tests, physical therapy, phone calls, and dedicated care.
He has been to Terem a handful of times, and we are so grateful to have these emergency medical services so close to home.

Yad Sarah (the largest national volunteer organization in Israel) has also provided much-needed equipment: wheelchairs, recliners, commodes, etc., that really helped us in our time of need.

Making aliyah at his age would not have been possible without the care the system provides.
This year was quite scary due to COVID-19, and we were extremely concerned about my father-in-law’s well-being. When he fell ill, I was relieved that the medical personnel came to our house to administer the test for him (turned out negative, thank God) Thankfully, he was one of the first people to get the vaccine in late December, and they even made sure my husband and I got inoculated soon thereafter because we take care of him.

We are eternally grateful to this awesome country!

Day 4

I can’t believe it took me 17 years of living in Israel to visit Timna Valley!

It is a short ride from Eilat and quite a different experience. Evidence of copper mining is found throughout the park, as well as remains of smelting furnaces dating back to King Solomon’s period. We hiked up the spectacular mountain through Solomon’s Pillars, which are red sandstone rock formations.

We then visited Timna Lake, which collects flashflood water and is surrounded by shaded seating areas, a playground, a restaurant, and plenty of activities to keep the kids busy.
Just when we thought we were done for the day, we discovered one of Israel’s hidden treasures. “Ha’agam haNe’elam” is a bright turquoise body of water surrounded by red mountains in the middle of the desert. We hiked 15 minutes in 107-degree weather down a winding mountain to reach the lake and it was such a treat to cool off in the water before we headed home.

It was a very memorable experience, unique to Israel and I highly recommend it!

Day 5

The biblical spies sinned by causing mass hysteria throughout the nation by convincing them that they were “unable to go up (into Israel) against the people, for they are stronger than we are,” and they spread an evil report about the land saying, “The land we passed through to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of stature…There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, descended from the giants. In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.”

Initially, however, the spies began with a very good report about the land itself saying, “We came to the land to which you sent us, and it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” The land itself was amazing and they knew it. God promised they would inhabit it and they should have had faith in God, Who had taken them out of Egypt, the world power at the time under one very powerful king who fancied himself a god! Th Israelites watched as God smote the Egyptians with 10 miraculous plagues, saw the splitting of the sea, ate the manna that fell from the heavens, got water from a rock….need I say more?! They really should have known that if God said He would have them inhabit the land, it would indeed happen!

I am delighted to say that I think our people have come a long way!

Israelis (as a whole) believe that anything can happen and live life accordingly. They have, with the help of God, turned desert into a beautiful fields, and made rocky mountains miraculously green. They have engineered hydroponics and grow some of the most delicious fruits, vegetables, and spices. Not to mention our large volume export of gorgeous breathtaking flowers around the world
.
Even this coronavirus-ridden year, with rockets raining down upon us, has not dampened our spirit and ability to, as they say, “oseh chayim” (do life). Israelis are creative and have the talent to improvise and make the seemingly impossible happen.

I love my people and am so proud to be able to call myself an Israeli!

Day 6

As we head into Shabbat, I would like to mention a few things that I enjoy here in Israel that greatly enhance my Shabbat.

Every Friday, while running errands in our neighborhood, we pass a nice Israeli fellow who sets up shop on the main street, just for the day, to sell flowers for Shabbat. It is such a blessing and has conveniently added beauty to my table without having to go out of my way.
In addition, my table gets graced with one of the many fine wines now produced in Israel. Often, I find myself spending too much time, debating which delicious wine to purchase because there are so many wonderful options!

Now that I mentioned the wine, I feel compelled to talk about my challah. I just started making my own challah a couple of years ago and I like to think that it has something to do with living here. The “can-do” attitude rubbed off on me. There is just something about the process of transforming a few simple ingredients into beautifully braided challah to sanctify my table on Shabbat that gives me great satisfaction. This experience is magnified when I look out my window toward Jerusalem and imagine what that challah must have looked like on the holy shulchan (table) in the Temple long ago. I hope to see what it will be like when we build the third and final Temple.

I pray with a full heart for the time when we will have real peace, not just in Israel, but all over the world. A time when we can say Shabbat Shalom, not just as a blessing but as a promise fulfilled.

About the Author
Aliza Lipkin fufilled her biggest dream by making Aliya in 2003 from the US. She resides happily in a wonderful community in Maaleh Adumim with her family. She is a firm lover and believer in her country, her people and her G-d. Her mission is to try and live a moral and ethical life while spreading insights based on Torah values to bring people closer together and help build a stronger nation.
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