For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
I was sitting in Cafe Aroma with my new French friends, a young couple I met while on a tour in Jerusalem, having a really enjoyable conversation – the kind you often have on vacation, especially long vacations where you’re more likely to throw your usual social caution to the wind. It’s the kind of liberation you feel as the result of being by so far from everything and everyone you’ve ever known. It allows you take greater risks and throw your normal social caution to the wind. Though I’m not technically on vacation, making Aliyah (6000 miles away from the place I called home for most of my life) has definitely made me more prone to the mood I was in while backpacking across Europe in my 20s – the sense of unlimited possibilities.
I think the three of us ended up talking for over 2 hours, a conversation which revolved around many things, but politics and religion took up most of our time – which seemed quite natural given their obvious erudition and genuine curiousness. My new friends genuinely seemed to have more questions (about Judaism, Israel, the U.S.) than answers, assumptions, or specific opinions – all of which made them quite pleasant interlocutors.
My friends were not Jewish, not evangelical Christians or religious in any sense, and not in any way connected to the Jewish state in the usual way. They were simply visiting Israel out of curiousness. They were secular Europeans on vacation – the kind of visitors most countries take for granted but, in Israel, is at least a bit more unusual. Indeed, their background made me think through my answers a bit longer than I normally would have. I felt that – especially when the conversation touched on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Zionism, and, American Jewry – I was, simultaneously representing my identities as an American, a new Israeli, and a Jew more broadly.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"