I have lost count of the number of times I’ve found myself sitting in front of the news with tears rolling down my face. Israeli reality is that of sharp contrasts and strong emotions. There is no apathy here.
Tears of heart-rending grief, tears of helplessness against horror and sometimes tears of pride and joy. Sometimes there are no words to explain the tears – only at seeing something that is eminently right.
This past week I found myself crying because of the joy of a 90 year old Sue Friedman at making aliyah to Israel. She was one of 221 new immigrants from across the US and Canada who decided to come home to Israel. 221 people left comfortable homes and easy lives in North America to move to Israel, not the most simple place in the world to be but the only place on earth a Jew can truly claim as his or her homeland.
At the same time America was busy destabilizing the Middle East with the capitulation deal to Iran. A deal that puts Israel in direct existential danger. Ironically while in cities across Iran the people were burning American and Israeli flags, shouting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel,” the Americans were ironing out the final details of the agreement which they signed in Theodor Herzl Square in Vienna – named for the founding father of the modern state of Israel.
While the American government was officially denying the danger to Israel, denying the existential threat, 221 people decided to build new lives in Israel. Including 90 year Sue Friedman. She explained that she had wanted to move to Israel from the time she was 13, when her parents left Germany for a better and safer life in the United States. It was 1938 and they escaped to the safety of America, just in time. Five children, 18 grandchildren, and 37 great-grandchildren later, she is moving to Ra’anana, Israel. Today, she has two daughters and their families living in Israel, including her granddaughter Member of Knesset Rachel Azaria.
The contrast is incomprehensible. In 1938 the Jewish family escaped Germany just in time to avoid the horrors of the Holocaust. At the time there was no Jewish State so they moved to America. In 2015 the granddaughter of that escapee is a Member of Knesset, a Parliament member in the State of Israel. And America, the supposed protector of Israel has just heightened the existential threat to the tiny country, making a deal with Iran who openly declares the desire to wipe Israel off the map.
What kind of person chooses to move to a country that is so threatened? These are not people who are blind to the danger. They make the choice despite the difficulties that are sure to come. These are people with hope. People who know that it is right for Jewish people to live in their Land.
There is no place like home.
Maybe that is what caused my tears – the knowledge that, against all odds there is still hope. That there are those willing to endure hardships for what is right. I know what it is like to start life over, making the move from America to Israel. It is no easy task.
But it is the right thing to do.