Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance day. I don't even remember the holiday last year - our first year in the land. Thinking back I guess I must have been working (graveyard shift for Greenpoint) and was barely aware of the day of the week, let alone a non-Toridic Hag. This is a holiday that doesn't get a lot of attention anywhere in the world. But last night and today really impacted me.
I didn't make it to shul, the activities were after Ari's bedtime, and he had school today, so putting him down and staying home took precedence. Instead I got a taste of what, perhaps, less observant Jews here in the land might experience. It was actually very moving. I found that most all the movie and special programming channels on TV fill their time with Holocaust remembrance shows - be it the special services at Yad Vashem last night (I saw all the dignitaries in the crowd - yes, Bibi was there), or an endless variety of Holocaust/WWII related movies, or specials recanting survivors experiences, next generations searching for life before the war, what happened to the Nazis, etc, etc.
It was all very tastefully done, all incredibly poignant, all riveting in the tales told. As I pondered how the world has treated our people, and wondered again the age old question of why they hate us so. I thought about how not much in the world has really changed. Antisemitism is growing world wide, Israel doesn't have an honest ally in sight, and it seems the lies told about Israel are believed by more and more people every day. Despite all that, I found a gem of understanding in the midst of all of it.
More than just the reason for every Jewish holiday "They tried to kill us, we survived, horay, let's eat!" There exists now for many of us a connection to Eretz Israel itself. It's almost like a physical symbiosis, I am Jewish, therefore I belong to the land. Note that the land does not belong to me. Nor does it belong to any other human, the land belongs to God, we belong to the land, ergo we belong to God.
This hit me as I was watching Bibi at Yad Vashem last night, and I wanted to say to him, hey, Mr. Prime Minister, do you get it? Our life is tied up in this land, it nurses us, nourishes us, disciplines us, teaches us, enriches us. This is the ONLY place we belong. If you "give it away" you give away our lifeblood. We are a part of it just as surely as the rocks that crowd every hillside, just as surely as the Rosemary and Horn-poppies growing wild on the roadside, just as surely as the Fig and the Olive and the Pomegranate.
Today I see clearer than any other time in my life how physically living here fullfills not only my heart's desire, but God's provision for every single Jew in the world. If you have not come, perhaps you do not know; this place is different, unique in all the world. There is something indescribable here, something esoteric. I believe it to be the touch of God's presence, still unfaded after centuries - or perhaps faded, but still so powerful even after this long, to imagine living here before His presence departed is beyond all comprehension. No wonder all the world is fighting over it, but only because they do not understand they can never possess the wonder that is contained here.
Even though I was not born here, when I came here I was home for the first time in my life, and I knew it in my kishkes. No other people can claim that, none. So as the world stumbles over the dilemma of how to force peace it the middle east, we who live here know there is only one way. For the rest of the world to simply let go and let us live here as God intended.
Not only should we never forget, we must strive to create a place where it will never happen again. Come, join me in the land. Join in the struggle to regenerate a reason for God to bring his presence back to earth. Find the provision for your life in the place that you belong to. Make Aliyah now, the land is calling!