Photo Credit: Jewish Press

When I was asked to write in response to this prompt, it was before the chagim, and I had just asked our rav how many days my daughter should keep for yom tov, since she is an American studying in Israel for her gap year. There were several possible answers, from one to two, and even one and a half.

But the 1.5 answer was actually perfect for her, because she was physically in one country, but still defined by her other country. She is an American. She is in Israel.


Add to that that she is Jewish. Everyone talks about how Israel is the Jewish home – meaning it’s her country, right? So she is in Israel – Israel is her country. But she is an American – America is her country. But she is Jewish – Israel is her country. One and a half sounds just right. (Or maybe one and a third?)

But the issue of identification with a country can go far deeper and far longer past a simple yom tov, too. Immigrants from all over the world come to America, yet still retain the culture and flavor along with them. Visit Washington Heights, and you’ll hear more Spanish than English; visit Beit Shemesh and you’ll hear more English than Hebrew.

A country is a place to live in that’s separate and outside ourselves. But country is also something that is inside us, and a part of who we are, that shapes us. It might take a village to raise a child – but it seems to take a country to help us figure out exactly who we are.


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Ann Diament Koffsky is the award-winning author/illustrator of more than thirty-five books for kids. She also creates free coloring pages which you can sign up to receive at