Aliza Lipkin

The strength and beauty of Israel

In past years, I pledged to mention something I love about Israel every day of the week of Parshat Shelach. This was an effort to do my part in making a tikkun (correction) for the sin of the biblical spies, whose story appears in this week’s parsha. Usually, I gleefully browse through my pictures and memories with a full heart, eager to share my memories and thoughts while displaying Israel’s manifold gifts.

Today, I find myself sitting with a heavy heart staring at my laptop. October 7th turned our world upside down. We were painfully reminded yet again of the importance and value of living life as a Jew in our homeland. We are overwrought with concern that our people are still cruelly being held by Hamas and we desperately want them home. We hold our collective breath as our soldiers face constant danger in efforts to destroy evil and bring back the hostages. This war would be enough to make most people flee their country, BUT NOT MY PEOPLE. So many of our young men and women dropped everything no matter where they were in the world and came home to Israel in her time of need, as the famous El Al ad so poignantly captures.

(via Facebook)

My admiration, appreciation, and love for Israel has only grown deeper as I witness the strength and determination of our people.

Day 2:

The origin of the Magen David is obscure but somehow throughout the ages, it has come to symbolize the Jewish people. In 1948 it became the official symbol to grace the Israeli flag. It is truly inspirational to see the star that not too long ago was used as a means of degradation and persecution be turned into a symbol of perseverance and triumph. Whenever I see the Israeli flag my heart swells with pride.

Since October 7, the Israeli flag has been visible everywhere in our country and I love it. Unsurprisingly, the municipalities put flags all over to reinstall a feeling of pride and security for the populace. However, I was shocked to witness the upsurge of Jews of all sorts all over the world purchasing and wearing a shiny Magen David around their necks. Some wear it defiantly and some out of pride. It is heartwarming to see so many voluntarily wear the star equated with Israel in these trying times. Israel is strong and our people prove it every single day.


Day 3:

Yesterday, I posted about the symbolism of the Magen David and how much it moves me. My son then reminded me of the enduring symbol of the Menorah, the actual emblem of the modern State of Israel.

The Menorah was constructed to stand in the Temple and radiate its brilliant light daily. Despite the destruction of our Temple and the exile of our people, the light of the Jewish neshama (soul) has not and never will be extinguished. Jews worldwide light menorahs on Hanukkah bringing forth much-needed spiritual light wherever they live.

The seven-branched candelabra depicted on the Arch of Titus became the official emblem of the State of Israel in the 20th century. It is a testament to the promise God made to Abraham that his descendants are eternal and will one day return to the world’s epicenter, Jerusalem where they will once again light the menorah in its rightful home.

Picture of me by the Golden Menorah in front of the Hurva Synagogue, in the center of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. (courtesy)

Day 4:

Over 20 years ago, my husband and I finally got going on my lifelong dream to make aliyah. Part of the protocol was a mandatory meeting with AACI to assist in the aliyah process. Our representative asked us about our plans. I informed her of my aspirations to live on a kibbutz and work the land. As cliché as it sounds, I envisioned picking luscious Jaffa oranges with Israelis.

The woman responded with a not-so-amused chuckle and said: “That’s not really a thing anymore, you need to get yourself a real job.” I was crestfallen (and apparently misinformed), but she was the expert so I heeded her practical advice and moved on. Unfortunately, after October 7, numerous fields with all sorts of produce were in dire need of assistance. I had the opportunity to volunteer a few times and fell in love with farming. I was in awe of how beautiful and delicious the tomatoes, oranges, lemons, tangerines, grapefruits, strawberries, and raspberries were. Sadly, I missed opportunities to harvest many other things including avocados. I hope to farm again soon and pray that it will be under better circumstances.

Day 5:

One of the first trips I took with my kids after we made aliyah was to the Biblical Zoo. I love the grounds that house a beautiful man-made lake surrounded by spacious lawns and shaded areas. The park consists of a wildlife savannah with free-roaming animals and a visitor’s train that provides transportation around the park. I preferred to stroll through the park to see all the animals and stop at the ice cream truck for the kids, wink wink, along the way.

Years later, I was thrilled to hear that Rabbi Natan Slifkin opened up his very own Biblical Museum of Natural History. It is a zoo, natural history museum, and Jewish education center all at once. It displays many mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects from the Torah. I secretly believe the biggest draw to the place is the photo op with that rad snake! While there, I was fortunate to purchase three fascinating books by Rabbi Natan Slifkin, which he autographed.

These two fun-filled attractions are prime examples of Israel’s ability to bring past, present, and future together in a way the entire family can enjoy.


Day 6:

Growing up in America, I only experienced Birkat Kohanim during the major holidays. The Priestly Blessing is one of the most spiritually uplifting moments in Jewish life, as the entire congregation is embraced in a “divine hug” as the kohanim turn and face the congregation, lift their hands beneath their tallit, and repeat word after word from the chazzan these 15 words

יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ
יָאֵ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה ׀ פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃
יִשָּׂ֨א יְהוָ֤ה ׀ פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם׃

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

When concluded, they turn around and face the Ark. While the chazzan recites the Sim Shalom (blessing for peace), the Kohanim say a short prayer, “informing” G‑d that they complied with His command to administer the Priestly Blessing so now He must do as He has promised, “Look down from Your holy Heavenly Abode and bless Your people and the Land which You have given us…”

In Israel, when there are kohanim to be found and a congregation of at least 10 men attending the morning prayers, Birkat Kohanim is recited daily. It is an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to receive this blessing daily.

I pray with every fiber of my being that Hashem fulfills this blessing and brings sustainable peace to Israel and the rest of the world.

Shabbat Shalom

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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