When I think about Israel, my mind takes me in several different directions. During my four trips there in the past decade-plus, I’ve had unique experiences each time, whether living in Tel Aviv while playing professional baseball in the Israel Baseball League, traveling for Birthright, sightseeing for my grandmother’s 90th birthday or coaching Team USA baseball to the gold medal at the 20th World Maccabiah Games while living in Haifa.
The one constant is that I’ve never been anywhere else in the world where I’ve felt more welcomed. One memory strikes me from when I lived in Tel Aviv. Some friends and I were spending time on the beach when we struck up a conversation with some of the locals. Within minutes, we’d been invited to their house for Shabbat dinner that coming Friday. That was one of the many times over the years where I felt as if I wasn’t in just another country, but in my home country.
When people ask me about my trips, I explain that Israel to me is a completely transformative and life-changing place. In fact, it’s not just a place but an experience. I truly feel that no matter what your religion — Jewish, Christian, Muslim or something else — everyone should visit. Israel has history and innovation and offers so much to learn. This should be a bucket-list trip for everyone in the world.