I grew up in Israel in the city of Holon. Even though I was a member of an ultra-Orthodox family, being that my father was the chief rabbi of the city, we lived in Holon. Because Holon is not among the Haredi cities in Israel, this created many opportunities for me as a child to meet neighboring children and families who are not observant.

My father always taught us and was a daily example of respecting others as he greeted people and showed ahavat Yisrael (love of a fellow Jew). His example inspires me to this day. The variety of Israeli experiences I had as a child contributes to my role as community rabbi in Atlanta at the Chabad Israeli Center-Congregation Bet Reuven.

Rabbi Mendy Gurary

The land of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the people of Israel are the connecting threads throughout my life. Even today, when the land of Israel is not at my fingertips as it was in my childhood, the connection to it is strong. We maintain this connection through Am Yisrael and Torat Yisrael with the people we encounter daily at the Chabad Center.

The land of Israel is the home of the Jewish people, and we will always aspire to return to it. For me personally and for many in our community, this is also their parents’ home and their childhood landscape. I have been living in the United States for more than 16 years, and still, when I come to visit Israel, I come home. No matter the distance and years away, I will always feel at home in Israel.

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