Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

This is a meaningful expression that many Jews living abroad use to describe their love and yearning to live in the holy land of Israel.

I have mentioned in earlier articles my deep love for this country. I would like to look at it from another slant. I am an American born Jew who was fortunate to move to Israel at the age of 16 months. I grew up in Israel until the age of 12. At that time my family returned to the United States for various reasons, bringing our whole family back with them. This move was very hard for me. I was very idealistic and young as I was, I considered myself a religious Zionist. It took me a long time to get used to living in the US, but eventually I did adjust to living there. We would travel back on the holidays to Israel and I eagerly awaited those times. I would sing to myself…going home, going to my homeland.

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Throughout the years that I lived in America I would meet lots of Jews with the same love and burning desire to live in Israel. I was not alone. I found that many of the people that were born in the USA really did wish to live in Israel. Whenever I heard of an event with Israeli singers or entertainers I would go to the performance. Any connection to Israel was, for me, a holy event worth cherishing. Once a year I would march down 5th Avenue in Manhattan with such pride during the Salute to Israel parade.

The years went by and I was blessed with the ability to return to live in Israel, something that I never take for granted, because I know that there are very many Jews who are still not able to realize their dream of settling in Israel. I like to share my feelings and events that happen in Israel, to give those Jews a feeling of being connected to the land . It’s important to understand the longing and love of these people for Israel. Once our dreams are realized it’s easy to forget the many who have yet to realize theirs.

Our prayer books are filled with our desire to be in Israel. We pray daily to Hashem to return us to the land of our forefathers. For the people who understand the meaning of the words we pray, it must be even harder to live in the diaspora.

More young people go to Israel to study after high school than ever before. And when they return to their homes they long to be back in Israel. The constant longing is real and I want to connect to Jews all over the world and let them know that I understand their feelings. Even though I now am comforted in that I live in Israel I remember the feelings of longing to live in Israel.

Where a person’s thoughts are is where they really are. So keep your hearts in the East until you are able to realize your dream of coming back home to Israel.

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Michal can be reached at michal@jewishpress.com