This Crazy Place I Love

In this crazy place I love, you can ski on the slopes of Mt. Hermon after breakfast and sip cocktails at sundown, while watching the sun go down over Yam Suf (the Red Sea).

In this crazy place I love, you could get a phone call from your son’s commander during advanced training, whom you haven’t heard from, for two long weeks, and he asks you if you could arrange a lavish spread for your son’s unit in the middle of nowhere, to surprise him – and you do it!

In this crazy place I love, there are times when the queue to donate blood at a mobile unit is longer than at the post office.

In this crazy place I love, people come from all over the world to volunteer to fight in our army.

In this crazy place I love, a football team calls on its fans to make up a minyan for the funeral of a lone soldier killed in combat – and 30,000 people turn up.

In this crazy place I live, there is a place called Masada. It is a place where Jews committed mass suicide. And we embrace the spirit of Masada as a symbol of “Am Yisrael Hai” (The Jewish nation lives). Go figure.

In this crazy place I love, people take more care dressing for the beach than for a meeting with the bank manager.

In this crazy place I love, when there are potholes in the road, instead of filling them in, the transport authority puts up warning signs for “uneven roads”.

(Courtesy of Dreamstime.com)

In this crazy place I love, there is a completely different set of rules for driving in villages. Right of way is optional.

In this crazy place I love, for the sake of “sharing the burden”, the army bends over backwards, by creating special units and spending huge budgets on special kitchens, and placing harsher restrictions on soldiers who want to serve in the army, in order to accommodate for those who do almost everything they can, in order not to.

In this crazy place I love, you can receive a phone call from your bank to wish you happy birthday – and then he tells you your credit card is maxed out.

In this crazy place I love, in July you hear more Hebrew in Greece than Greek and more French in Netanya than in Marseilles.

In this crazy place I love, there are signs the size of a billboard, on a volatile border, saying “Closed Military Zone”, and parents think they do not apply to them, because they just HAVE to visit their children on Hag.

In this crazy place I love, a driver can overtake you on the inside shoulder, and then shout at you “who was the idiot that gave you a license”?!

In this crazy place I love, we manage to turn a one day religious holiday into a week long build up celebration.

In this crazy place I love, a military helicopter can hover over your poultry farm and drop a package that says, “Please give to Miki” (real story, 1988).

In this crazy place I love, you can find several religious sects davening at Rashbi’s tomb, in the same place, but they refuse to acknowledge one another.

In this crazy place I love, a serenity descends like a blanket of peace over your home, as Sabbath comes in.

In this crazy place I love, the Kupat Holim has a computerized queue management system, and still someone will push in and say, “Excuse me, I only want to ask a question”.

In this crazy place I love, the army Chief of Staff can inspect the position you are guarding, and ask you “which kibbutz are you from?” And upon answering say “Well, then please send my regards to Roni, my neighbor’s daughter”. (True story).

In this crazy place I love, a village can have more speed bumps on the road to the supermarket than the Luna Park has dips on the roller coaster.

In this crazy place I love, you can find more memorial monuments per square kilometer, than can be found anywhere else in the world. (The Golan Heights, and I have stopped and honored every single one).

74th Battalion memorial Golan Height, Yom Kippur War (courtesy of Wikipedia)

In this crazy place I love, 600,000 NIS can be raised in the space of two days to help the widow of a man shot dead in a parking dispute. By complete strangers.

In this crazy place I love, nothing is more permanent than “temporary”.

In this crazy place I love, you can have two election campaigns in the space of six months, and in the end, the only way out of the impasse seems to be a third.

This is the crazy place I love. It is my home. It is in my blood. I cannot dream of living anywhere else. Israel. Crazy. Love it.

Shana Tova.

About the Author
Paul Mirbach made aliya from South Africa to kibbutz Tuval in 1982 with a garin of Habonim members. Together they built a new kibbutz transforming rocks and mud to a green oasis in the Gallilee. He served in infantry during his army service, serving in both Lebanon and the West Bank, including on reserve duty during the first intifada. Paul still lives on Tuval with his wife and two sons.
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