I love Israel. I loved Israel before I ever visited -- blame it on years of Jewish summer camp, day school, and Hebrew school -- but after spending a collective seven months there in the past two years, my infatuation has only amplified.
However, this isn't a simple relationship. (Does one even exist?) I sometimes characterize my relationship with Israel like that of a parent with a child. There is nothing Israel could do to make me stop loving her. I may not always agree with all of her choices, but I will always love her.
I believe that Judaism is so strongly connected to Israel that when someone says something slanderous about Israel (which happens on an almost daily basis in our world,) I take it as a personal attack because my primary identity is Jewish. I know this is wrong and I shouldn't feel this way, but I am so emotionally connected to Israel that I just can't help it.
I love that the food is kosher and the boys are Jewish and all the signs are in Hebrew and that I feel safer there than I do anywhere else. Israel is my home. I can't say that with as much conviction about any other place in the world.
You're probably wondering why I don't move there right now. After all, I'm going to graduate college in a few months and have the opportunity to choose where I live and what job I have. Why don't I make Aliyah? So many people I know have done it. My Hebrew isn't perfect by any means, but with more practice I could get better.
Everyone I meet who has moved there from the states says the same thing. It's fun there. And they're right. Israelis have a different perspective on life than we do as Americans. They have to go to the army. They face death on a daily basis. This makes them celebrate life and take chances, which is something I strive so badly to do. After all, we only have one life. It sounds silly, but when I think about it this way, I truly want to make the most of it.
As much as I'd like to believe that I am mature, sure of myself, and knowledgeable, I know deep down that I am not really any of those things. And I know this because the real reason I don't want to make Aliyah is because I'm scared.
I'm scared to not know the language and to have to live under the fear of random terrorist attacks and rockets.
I'm scared that I will never be accepted because I am not really Israeli.
I'm scared that I will limit my career path. I might want to go to rabbinical school at some point and I certainly wouldn't be able to live in Israel and make a living as a female rabbi.
I'm scared that living in Israel might take away its uniqueness. I take solace in knowing that if I need Israel, it is there for me to visit. I don't want to take this for granted.
I'm scared that if I have children and raise them in Israel, they will have to live with similar fears.
Even aside from my uncertainties, I know I have so much to accomplish in the states. There are friendships to revive, people I love, and the frustrating state of American Judaism to revitalize. To quote Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, "I love you [Israel]...but I love me more." And I am grateful to be lucky enough to not have to live in fear. My heart will be with Israel, but my body won't be.