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Aliza Lipkin
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There’s no place like home

Where the ground is sacred, the air is breathtaking, and the people rebuke me for not shopping smarter (Shelach)
(courtesy)
(courtesy)

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.

This 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 blogpost. In past years, I made a pledge 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.

Day 1:

(All photographs are courtesy of the author)

Every year I wait, not so patiently, for summer to arrive because that is watermelon season in Israel. They are ridiculously delicious, and I can’t get enough of them! Crazy that watermelons were specifically one of the things that the Jews in the desert whined about:

זָכַ֨רְנוּ֙ אֶת־הַדָּגָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־נֹאכַ֥ל בְּמִצְרַ֖יִם חִנָּ֑ם אֵ֣ת הַקִּשֻּׁאִ֗ים וְאֵת֙ הָֽאֲבַטִּחִ֔ים וְאֶת־הֶֽחָצִ֥יר וְאֶת־הַבְּצָלִ֖ים וְאֶת־הַשּׁוּמִֽים:
We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge, the cucumbers, the watermelons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic

If only they could be here now!

That snapshot is not even filtered!
Look at that color.
It’s the color of my heart.
The color of love.

Day 2:

Why yes, that’s me up there!

I’ve always been envious of birds’ ability to soar through the sky.
Parasailing took me there for a few glorious moments.

It was not only thrilling, but the views were breathtaking!

There are so many exciting things to do in Eilat.
Next time, I hope to try paragliding!

Day 3:

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation provides five different exciting tours near the Kotel. I recently went on the tour entitled “The Great Bridge Route.”

Our group walked the length of the Western Wall under the Old City below the tremendous bridge that led to the Temple during the Second Temple period. We stopped at the spot closest to the Holy of Holies, where I had a quick but meaningful prayer while touching one of the enormous stones of the Western Wall recently exposed by excavations. They are making new discoveries daily that are very exciting. It blows my mind that I walked the same ground my forefathers traversed.

We ended up in a new, gorgeous subterranean synagogue. It was heartwarming after viewing remnants of the past to walk into a meaningful place of our present and future.

Day 4:

“Nudnik”

“Buttinsky”

Many people criticize Israelis for giving their unsolicited opinion.

Not me.

I was at the supermarket today. The woman who rang me up at the cash register turned to me and said: “Why don’t you shop on Tuesday?”

She looked at the belt and continued: “What a shame you could have saved money on all these fruits and vegetables.” She informed me that Rami Levi has a sale on fresh produce every Tuesday.

Truth be told, I do purchase vast amounts of produce for my family, so it would be prudent to heed her advice.

Israelis will tell you anything they think you should know whether you are interested or not. I’m originally from New York, where people tend to mind their own business, so this was something I wasn’t used to when I first moved to Israel. I understand why some are put off by this behavior, but I like it. It makes me feel like people care enough to help me.

Once a guy walked past me in a parking lot and saw I couldn’t get out of my parking spot. He told me to get out of the car as he got into the driver’s seat, he then pulled out of the space for me and proceeded on his merry way!

There are many stories I could tell you about when Israelis helped me in a time of need without being asked.

I love Israelis.

I welcome them to keep butting into my life. I feel like they adopted me into their big family and am eternally grateful.

Day 5:

A green thumb I do not have. Try though I might, most plants don’t live very long in my care. However, somehow I managed to keep some evergreens, a palm tree, and a pomegranate tree alive for 15 years.

I learned that pomegranates, like Israelis, are strong-willed, indeed. Despite my unfortunate neglect over the years, it still blossoms just in time for our Rosh Hashana seder, providing luscious fruit for our festive meal.

Just like my pomegranate tree that thrived despite its conditions, so too, the Jewish nation persevered through numerous hardships in exile. Our firm belief in God’s promise to bring us back to the Holy Land gave us the hope and strength we needed to endure until we were finally reunited with our homeland.

The pomegranate is one of the seven species that grows abundantly in Israel. It is not only highly nutritious, but also quite beautiful. The pomegranate’s beauty and symbolism gave rise to countless works of Judaica art featuring the shiny red fruit. It was chosen to adorn the bottom of the high priest’s robe when he entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. Even the spies who spoke ill of the land of Israel felt compelled to bring back pomegranates to show the splendor of the land.

The pomegranate is so much more than just a fruit in Israel. It is intricately linked with our land and our identity.

Day 6:

One of my favorite moments of the week is sunset on Friday.

As Shabbat arrives, I watch the sun slowly disappear behind the mountains from my window in my home in Maaleh Adumim. Shabbat has always been a refuge in time for me. In Israel, it has an added dimension of spiritual peace and tranquility that only home can provide.

I thank God for bringing me home and pray that He brings back all those who long to return quickly.

Wishing you all a 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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