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 have only moments to write - stolen moments before Elie and Aliza will come down and ask if I am ready to leave. I sit here in my nightgown - no, I'm not ready and no, I shouldn't be writing but I'm afraid that the day will come and go and I won't have time later.
We are going to the wadi nearby, as much of Maale Adumim is going to do - to have a barbecue with dear friends and celebrate the simplest of days - a day off from work, a day to enjoy being outside. The army has brought tanks and other equipment, the sensitive parts removed. Children will be allowed to climb in, on, over, and even under. Soldiers will be there to watch, to explain, to guard.
Last night fireworks - amazing, right over our heads. They scared Aliza a bit and so she half clung, half cuddled with me as we sat on the grass. But even with her pressed against me, I had a moment, as I do each year, to watch, to marvel. I love fireworks. And there, hidden in the noise, with all eyes looking up, I take a moment, as I always do, and whisper my love for this land.
Happy birthday, Israel. I love you so much. I love this land, this people. I love the society we have built and much of its values. I can join in and complain about so much but it is nothing to what I love. I look at each inch and marvel that I am blessed to live here and no, that is honestly not an exaggeration. I touch it with reverence - this land that God brought me to, this land that God gave me thousands of years ago and which is still mine.
What sets Jews apart, what much of the world doesn't really understand, is this sense of connection we have with each other. A Jew can travel the world and always have a home to stay in, a place to get food.
If a Jew is hurt in Kiev or Paris, my heart aches and I am filled with pain, with anger. Israelis understand - it is our job to protect them, to be here so that they can come. That is Israel. If something happens in a far off land - we will send people to help, equipment, doctors, troops to dig through the rubble. And quietly, as we do, we will find the local Jewish population and make sure they are safe. We will send extra people to track down any Israelis and make sure all is well. It is what we do. That is Israel.
And the connection goes with the physical land as well. This is ours. Each time I hear of an arson attack - I know that if you love something, you do not burn it down, you do not destroy it. It seems that the huge Carmel fire was started by carelessness, but in its wake, as Israel fought the fires, Arabs deliberately set dozens of fires to make it harder for us - this is the land they love?
Last night, today, I will go to the land. I'll sit outside and enjoy it with friends and family and somewhere, somehow, I'll take a moment and whisper again to the land, to the State, to the people - to all that we have built here, and to God - thank you. Thank you for bringing me home, for giving me this land, making this mine.
May you be granted peace.
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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!"