Why I Love Israel


Sure, living in Israel has a lot of challenges, especially if you weren’t born here. But moving to Israel, making Aliyah, is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

It was here in Israel where I was exposed to a thriving, living, Jewish culture.  It was here in Israel that I joined the army, matured, met my husband, and eventually planted the seeds for my future descendants.

Israel is budding with inventions in technology, agriculture, water desalinization and life-saving discoveries in medicine which brings pride for our country.

….There are some pet peeves though, which after a moment of thought, I realize are a blessing.

It peeves me when I start typing on my computer keyboard after my kids have used the computer, and the language is in Hebrew, and I have to switch the keyboard back to English and type my sentence all over again.  And then I think, “Ah, my kids speak Hebrew!  What a blessing that it’s their mother tongue and they feel more comfortable typing in Hebrew than in English!”

It peeves me when I get stuck in a traffic jam, and then I think, “Look at all this life here in Israel!  Jerusalem is populated with Jews and thriving, and look how many Israelis have cars and can drive all over the country!”

It peeves me when there is roadwork on the way to Jerusalem and it is harder to drive and navigate, but then when picking up a friend from the airport and driving her to Jerusalem, she cried tears of happiness on how much the country has changed and grown since she was last here, and was in awe of the huge new overpasses and bridges connecting smaller communities to and around Jerusalem.

I love getting into heated arguments at the table on politics with fist pounding, yelling, and then when we are finished, laughing and thoroughly exhilarated from the intellectual stimulation — and we are all still friends.

I love that Israelis are deep people, educated, knowledgeable, curious, and FRIENDLY!  I love that though we may be known for being assertive or even aggressive sometimes, we know we have each other’s backs.  We may argue, but we all know we are still one big family — and maybe that’s WHY we argue.  I remember when my 20-year-old daughter came home and told me that the car she and her girlfriends were in, stopped right in the middle of a very busy intersection near the entrance to Jerusalem (the car had stalled).  When the cars behind her began to honk and honk, and then finally go around them to pass, one man yelled at them as he was passing, “Idiots! Move already!”  and my daughter looked at him, lifted her hands up in dismay, smiled sweetly and said, “We’ve stalled”.  Immediately, the furrowed eyebrows of the driver loosened up, and he yelled out, “Oh!  Can I help and assist you?”

I love the story my mother tells, when she and my father would go to the butcher shop and then one day, the butcher got angry about something she said, and shouted at my mother.  So the next time my parents went to the butcher, my mother decided to sit and stay in the car instead.  When my father went in without her, the butcher gave a big hello, and said, “Where’s your wife?”  My father told him, “She’s sitting in the car, because the last time we were here, you shouted at her”.  The butcher made an incredulous look on his face and replied, “But that was last week!”

I love Israel, because living in the mountainous region of Jerusalem, and being a brand new mother — and not knowing better — a woman from the apartment building nearby where I was standing, yelled out from her upper window to me, “Put a hat on your baby!”.

Or when I was pregnant and sitting on a low fence near another apartment building waiting for a bus on a hot day, another woman passing me and walking into the building said, “You’re pregnant and look hot and tired. Come into my apartment and have a drink and wait there until the bus comes.”

I love that in Israel, before we all go and party and barbecue for Independence Day, we first remember somberly, those who gave their lives for the State of Israel and the Jewish People.  All day, we listen to radio or see on television, the stories and lives of those who fell in battle. We learn about their sacrifice, we cry with their parents and families.  And then, the country sounds a siren, and everything stops.  Cars come to a stop, and drivers stand outside their vehicles.  Passersby stop walking and stand at attention. People in stores and schools and offices all stop talking, and stand at attention in silence. With the wailing of the siren all over the country,  people stand in respect, or say a silent prayer all at the same time, up to heaven asking G-d to bless the souls of the fallen, give comfort to their surviving families, and prevent any more people from having to die in battle, or from terror attacks.  Later in the day when night comes, we have a national ceremony that is televised, where soldiers salute, and then raise the Israeli flag to full mast, and the celebrations of Israel Independence Day begin!

I love knowing that every Independence Day, everyone, but everyone, will be outside barbecuing.  And that the following day in Israel, the skies will be gray from all the smoke from the grills, the day before.  The same for the day after the Lag B’Omer holiday when all the kids and families make small bonfires and sit around and sing and eat.

I love walking into grocery stores and seeing the abundance of fruits and vegetables in Israel, as well as their robust taste, so that when you eat a salad, the vegetables burst with flavor, and you don’t have to LOOK to see what you are eating, because you know you are chewing a tomato or cucumber because of their separate and delicious tastes!

I love going into Israeli cafes and restaurants, and getting hearty Israeli sized portions on my plate.  And delicious too!  (I often take pictures of my food.  C’mon, you’ve never photographed the beautiful dishes of food they serve?)

I love the story that only happens in Israel, about someone who was driving on the highway, and a policeman pulled him over.  The driver, thinking that he didn’t recall speeding or doing anything wrong, came to a stop at the side of the road. As the policeman comes to the driver’s window, he says to the driver, “I stopped you because we need a tenth man for a minyan.”

I love all the songs about the Land of Israel and how beautiful it is, and I love the army bands and other Israeli artists singing these songs.

I love Israel, because my kids learn to serve their country, either by guarding our borders in the IDF, or by doing National Service, and learning to help their brothers and sisters in hospitals, centers and schools for needy youth, and a host of other places where volunteers are needed.  I love that this matures them for life.

I love that almost anywhere I go in Israel, there is a small synagogue nearby that my husband can jump in to catch a minyan.

I love knowing, that my children, and their children, and all my future generations will be speaking their mother tongue, Hebrew.  I love that when they open a prayer book, it will be familiar to them, not written in a foreign language that we in the diaspora would lose our place in so often in synagogue – if we even went to synagogue.

I love that when I wake up each morning before 6 am, I hear the radio open up with the Shema Yisrael prayer (Hear, O Israel).

I love that Jewish holidays are the norm here, and that there is no school on these days, and that the Jewish calendar is the norm here.

I love that Israel has a heart so big, it goes all over the world to help people suffering from tragedies or natural disasters, and often does a better and quicker job than many of the richer, western countries!

I love riding on a bus, and seeing all the young men wearing kippot (yarmulkes) and they are not embarrassed and don’t feel they need to wear a baseball cap to hide it.

I love that I traded ‘Quantity’ living in the Diaspora, for ‘Quality’ living in Israel.

Israel is my family, my life, my future, and my privilege to be a part of.  I simply love Israel!

Happy 68th Birthday to the Modern State of Israel!

There are many more reasons to love Israel.  Please feel free to add your own reasons to the list in the comments section below!

About the Author
Tamar Yonah made aliyah from California in 1978 when she was 18 years old. She was greatly influenced by her father who was a holocaust survivor, and after making his way to the Land of Israel after WWII, fought in Israel's War of Independence. Tamar, too has been fighting for Israel by serving in the Israeli army & air force, and afterwards by becoming an activist for Israel and aliyah. Tamar has made a prolific career in radio. She was the Director of Programming at Israel National Radio while at the same time hosted the most popular English speaking online radio talk-show from Israel for several years straight, called 'The Tamar Yonah Show'. Today, Tamar is the Managing Director of Israel News Talk Radio, a NEW online news-talk station in English from Israel at
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