If you lived in Israel, then when you went to the supermarket, you could see two beautiful Jewish Ethiopian women in their high headdresses, hugging each other. They would be your check-out girls.
If you lived in Israel, then on Christmas, you could see parents taking pictures of their delighted children seeing a Christmas tree for the first time at Jerusalem’s YMCA. They’d be explaining what Christmas was to children who had never heard of it.
If you lived in Israel, you wouldn’t worry at all if your teenagers walked through the streets at eleven PM because you know it’s perfectly safe.
If you lived in Israel, you could get a kosher bacon cheeseburger at the shuk and eat it among yeshiva boys and seminary girls. And on Thursday nights, you could sit at a table amid a bustling crowd drinking gourmet local beer and eating delicious local snacks with your friends, during the weekly shuk street party.
If you lived in Israel, you could go scuba diving in the Red Sea, and then travel a few hours by car to go skiing in the Golan Heights.
If you lived in Israel, then you would never be the quaint minority with its interesting, quaint holidays. All the Jewish holidays would be the national holidays, and supermarkets would offer you discounted jars of honey for Rosh Hashana, and free dairy recipe booklets for Shavuot, and packages of doughnuts with dreidels for Chanukah, and decorations for your Sukkah on Sukkot. On the other hand, you wouldn’t be able to find bread or pasta, cake or cookies for the entire week of Passover, all of it removed or covered up on the shelves. And the lines would be long with people all buying the same things, getting ready for the same holidays, Jewish holidays.
If you lived in Israel, you would be able to walk in the middle of street on Yom Kippur because no one was driving, and not a single store or business was open and every synagogue on every street was filled to bursting to members and casual visitors.
If you lived in Israel, every news headline, every victim of crime or terrorism would be removed from you with one degree of separation. A hundred percent of the time, when the country mourned, you too would mourn and when the country rejoiced, you too would rejoice, together with your family, your close and distant neighbors, and people sitting on the bus and buying a falafel, or on line in the medical clinic.
If you lived in Israel, you would probably live on a street named after a Jewish patriarch, or a Hebrew king or prophet, or some hero or founder or educator or author or poet in the Jewish state.
If you lived in Israel, your children and grandchildren would get an excellent free Jewish and secular education (proof: my Israel educated grandson got a full scholarship and a Ph.d at Harvard, and my grandson is this year’s Rhodes scholar), universal health insurance from birth, free vocational training and excellent experience during their army service at the age eighteen, and then afterwards scholarships for college, as well as preferential housing benefits.
If you lived in Israel then every day you lived, you would feel at home in a place where the Jewish people were loved and respected, Jewish holidays and customs and religious rites familiar and cherished, and where your enemies had to contend with a Jewish army, air force and navy, Jewish police, Jewish judges, and a Jewish code of law. You could wear a kippah and a Magen David at all times in all places without fear, surrounded by your people, beloved, helped, protected, not in spite of the fact you were a Jew, but because of it.
If you can, come home.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Naomi Ragen