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Ten reasons to love Israel

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By Judi Siegal

A local magazine used to have a feature at the end of its publication entitled “Ten reasons why I love Ocala.”

It featured local notables who gave their opinions on the matter.

In honor of the 61st year of the independence of the State of Israel, I would like to offer my version of this feature by naming ten reasons (not in any particular order of importance) on why I love the State of Israel.

l. Israel is the land of the Bible and the spiritual home of the

Jewish people.

Everywhere you go in the Jewish State, you find Biblical references. Take a bus ride through the countryside and you will pass through areas where major Biblical events took place. Walk in the footsteps of King David and the Patriarchs. And stand at the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall, site of where the Holy Temple once stood.

Reliving my experiences at this spot, I felt that I was a part of a continuum, a link in a chain of my people stretching back from the present to Abraham.

There was no doubt in my mind that this was a God-given land.

2. Israel is uniquely

Jewish.

I just love the fact that everything has a Jewish flavor to it. Stores close on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays, government agencies use Biblical symbols and references for their symbols (ex. The tourist department has a motif of the spies Moses sent out to survey Canaan, later Israel) and even the Hilton has a mezuzah on the door.

And Hebrew, the language of the Bible, is the lingua franca of Israel.

3. Israel is very historic.

Everywhere you look you can find evidence of past civilizations. The British, the Turks, the Arabs, the Romans, the Canaanites, the Crusaders all have left their mark on the Jewish state. Archeology is the national pastime in Israel with new finds and discoveries happening daily.

4. Israel is a very modern country.

Despite what I stated in number 3, Israel has all the modern conveniences of the modern age. Israel has given much to the world in terms of modern medicine, electronics, music and fashion. In this old-new land, you can find a person talking on a cell phone standing next to an ancient wall in Jerusalem being visited by a group of tourists on Segways.

Its air force is one of the best in the world and it is one of the most literate and educated countries, per capita, in the world.

5. The Jewish State is proud and independent.

Some mistake Israelis for being arrogant, but I see their nature as one of being proud of their achievements.

They know that, while they receive financial help from America and elsewhere, it is up to them to forge their own future. Surrounded as they are with hostile nations, it is an ongoing task to keep up with daily life on a normal-as-can-be-expected level.

I admire their tenacity and pioneering spirit and their desire to succeed and preserve the future of the Jewish people.

6. There are many different nationalities in Israel.

Like the United States, each of these nationalities has contributed to the development of the country. We must give a “hats off” to the ulpim, language immersion schools that teach new immigrants Hebrew, for helping the newcomers to assimilate into Israeli culture.

Each of these nationalities observe the Jewish rituals with their own flavor and ceremonies that no longer flourish in their native countries; now these have found new life in Israel.

7. Israel is the Jewish homeland.

This is the raison d’etre of the country. Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist Movement, stated early on that Jews, like other peoples, needed a homeland, a place where they could be safe and not persecuted. Under the Law of Return, any Jew who wishes to come to Israel may do so and be given citizenship. In my opinion, had there been a Jewish state during World War II, far fewer Jewish lives would have been lost.

8. Israel is a land of

beautiful and interesting natural resources.

The desert Negev region with its desolateness and eerie silence was the perfect place for Biblical ascetics whose visions and prophecies continue to influence us today.

The Dead Sea is a natural wonder as are the waterfalls of Ein Gedi. The Galilee and Lake Kinneret with their lush greenness stand in sharp contrast to the desert region. The coastal area with its orange groves and seaside resorts also add to the beauty of this country.

9. and 10. Jerusalem rates two numbers.

There is so much I could say and write about the capital of Israel, but in the space allowed I will list the sites I love the most.

Not in any particular order they are: The Western Wall and the Temple Mount, the Old City, the Cardo, the Great Synagogue, Hadassah Hospital, Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and David’s Tomb, the Citadel and Tower of David, the Israel Museum and Shrine of the Book, the King David Hotel, Montefiore’s Windmill and the shouks, bazaars of the Old City.

To fully appreciate Israel,  you need to visit her. Perhaps then you, too, will come up with your own list of ten!

Judi Siegal is a retired teacher and Jewish educator. She lives in Sun Valley with her husband, Phil, and they enjoy RVing together.