No matter where you go or how long you’re gone or how much you love being away, it always feels great to land at Home.
Because Home is where the heart is.
Which also applies when I turn the words around–to the Jewish Homeland .
I felt at home from the minute I landed — and it wasn’t just Mary’s familiar face greeting me at the airport.
The main street in her city reminded me of Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, where we both grew up.
Seeing the style and beaches of Tel Aviv—in the blink of an eye I was back in Los Angeles.
The picturesque town of Zikhron Ya’akov , ironically located in Israel’s Carmel mountains, is an Israeli version of my current hometown, Carmel, California—a charming main street lined with shops…
even down to the sunset over the water.
But what most brought home to mind in Israel are the people—-and not just because everyone is Jewish.
I saw friends and their families who moved to Israel, now at home in their new lives.
I had a family reunion with my cousin Shari —and met her Israeli husband and daughter for the first time.
And I saw the old city of Jerusalem through the eyes of a tour guide who was in my high school class, Scott Matter, now Shai Shalom.
On my first trip to Israel in 1969, every Israeli urged me to move there. In the decades since, millions of people like Shari, Scott and Mary have done that, from America and all over the world. I asked everyone I met– why they came, and made Aliyah– which means Jews immigrating to Israel to become citizens. And everyone has a story–why they wanted to leave, why they feel they belong in Israel, how they make this new life work—even some who commute to work as far as New York, Europe, California.
I can’t tell all their stories, but I appreciated hearing them, and learning why Israel is where they want to call home.
In my life, “home” has been a fluid concept. I’ve lived in several places I still consider “home”— no matter where I live at the moment—because I left behind ties that remain part of me, that still bind me to places and people. In a sense, I’m expanding that list to include Israel—because I came home with a deepened respect, love and pride in “our” Homeland.
Because home is where– anywhere and everywhere—the heart is.