One of the questions a Jew is asked by the Celestial Court when he gets to Heaven is “Did you look forward to the Redemption?” By having spent a vacation in Israel, he can answer, yes, he took a part in the rebuilding of the Jewish People in their promised homeland. Chances are that he will also pray in a few minyans in Israel, go to the Kotel, and learn some Torah on his sightseeing trips. Each of these things infuses a Jew in Israel with a mighty dose of spiritual adrenaline and fills the world with light. And there is a good chance that he will have a great time here too. Maybe even a better time than if he had decided to vacation in Honolulu. Because chances are that for the first time in his life he will feel like a complete Jew, and not like a stranger in someone else’s land. If he is crazy for beaches, well, we have beaches too. And if he loves golf, there is even a golf course in the country. True, the cuisine may be more elegant in other places, but at least in Israel there is a pretty good chance that it’s kosher. And as far as Jewish kids go, after a vacation in Israel, they usually say that they had the best time of their lives. All in all, Israel can be pretty cool.
Surveys reveal that only about 15% of Diaspora Jews have visited Israel. To me, that’s simply shocking. How can it be that God gave us back our homeland and so many Jews don’t come? You can say it is hard to move to a country far away, but what’s the big deal about coming for a visit? It certainly isn’t because of the money. Snorkeling in the Caribbean, and enjoying a gondola ride along stinking, garbage-filled sewers of Venice, cost about the same. If you sneak into the closets of Diaspora homes and pull out their suitcases, you are sure to find baggage tickets still attached to the handles, with airport stops in San Juan, Barbados, Paris, Athens, Hong Kong, and Timbuktu. So I ask you – if Jews can visit Rome, why not Jerusalem?
For those of you who want to know the answer – it’s pretty simple. There are a lot of Diasporanians who don’t want to face their Jewishness. Since Israel is so Jewish, it’s like a mirror that these homogenized Jews would rather avoid. In their inner Jewish subconscious, they know that a visit to Israel will make them confront the fact that they should be better Jews – and even live here! Since all of their identity is built on the myth that they are first and foremost Americans, the confrontation with the Holy Land is too threatening to the glass houses they’ve built.
Finally, regarding the lame excuse that visiting Israel is dangerous, which you hear all the time, this simply isn’t true. About two million tourists come to Israel each year (half of them goyim). Over the last ten years, maybe a handful of them were the victims of terrorist killings. Statistically, there is more danger for a Jewish tourist in the mountains of South America, the highways of France, and the bars of Bangkok, where you can contact a variety of venereal diseases just by walking into the place.
So this summer, when you are checking out your vacation options, be brave, be Jewish, and make the Holy Land the number one choice on your list.
About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press
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