BY NOGA GUR-ARIEH / AJT //

Noga Gur-Arieh

Noga Gur-Arieh

It’s summer in Israel and time to do a little reflecting on life. Many of us here manage to get away, flying off to exotic locations. The rest of us hang around, sitting in front of our TVs, trying to stay cool.

No matter which group you’re part of, at some point there’s a good chance you’ll start thinking about life in Israel – this oh-so small, yet well-known and coveted piece of land in the Middle East.

Many of us find ourselves wondering why we remain in the Jewish homeland. After all, haven’t we Jews suffered enough? Do we really need to remain in Israel and deal with the torrid heat and the constant threats from our neighbors.

Okay, it’s true that Israel is a modern, democratic state with beautiful beaches, a crazy nightlife, breathtaking scenery, fascinating history and kind and warm people. But, truth to tell, there are other places in the world that have all these qualities and a little peace and quiet!

So, as I mentioned, each summer many of us spend time wondering why we haven’t packed up and left already. Why don’t we go ahead and find someplace with just a little less drama!

As often as not, however, before we can focus on our ennui, we witness a revelation.

Planes come soaring into the country, packed with young Jews, all ready to settle here and join us in this great land.

These people weren’t born here and they certainly aren’t being forced to move to Israel. In most cases, they are leaving a life of comfort behind. They are aware of the problems – the threats and violence – and still they come, most often smiling.

It’s easy to spot the excitement on their faces and it’s also easy to be cynical when you first see them on the news, landing at Ben Gurion Airport. But, after a bit, most of us get excited also.

We look at these young people, amazed at what they are doing, and have nothing but admiration in our hearts for them. Making Aliyah is a life-altering decision and the Olim are people to be looked up to and respected.

Quite frankly, I don’t think I’ll every quite comprehend why these people make the decision to become Israeli citizens. I’ve always been here, so I don’t think I’ll ever know exactly what motivates them.

All I can think is that, in a fashion, meeting with recent Olim is like witnessing magic. These people shine a special light on Israel, turning this small and troubled land into, well, Neverland or Oz or the Magic Kingdom.

Best of all, there excitement is contagious and we get to share their dream. We come to realize how lucky we are to be born here.

So, Dear Olim, thank you for helping me see the beauty of my home and thanks for making our country a better place for everyone.

About the writer

Noga Gur-Arieh visited the U.S. to work at Camp Coleman after finishing her military service in the IDF. She is now back in Israel, working as a journalist.