Israel, the gem amid a turbulent region. She’s perhaps a little rough around the edges, but she shines bright like a diamond. Israel feeds my spirit and soul. She is an intoxicating mélange of sights, smells, tastes and sounds. From Jerusalem stone to the buoyant Dead Sea to the mouthwatering falafel stands, Israel awakens my senses.

Israel has a magnetic pull and an inexplicable appeal. A fresh Jerusalem breeze can tell 3,000 years of history, as the aged man in the shuk hands me a basket filled with Shabbat candles, his eyes brimming with wisdom and soul. Israel with outstretched hands welcomes and cradles the traveler and countryman. There is something here, something that cannot be heard or touched but is somehow absorbed. Israel seeps in through the pores of its people and spreads throughout the body.

Eti Lazarian

Jerusalem has a holiness in the air that is unexplainable. There are really no words that capture the feeling you receive as you walk through the gates. My skin gets goose bumps as I wander the limestone our ancestors once walked with my daughters, hoping to get a piece of their neshama attached to our soul.

The smells of the neighboring quarters tell another story of three religious groups living as one, in harmony within the mystical, magical walls of the Old City I call home. Israel is my safe place, where I rest. Israel is my shelter for my soul. Happy birthday, my beautiful Israel, wishing you many more!

See all the reflections on Israel’s meaning on this special anniversary.