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Coming home to Zion

By Michael Freund
2/26/2010, 12:00 AM

Yes, I have indeed truly come home.
Fifteen years ago this week, my wife and I, together with our young son, embarked on a fateful journey.

Leaving behind friends and family in New York, we boarded a flight and fulfilled our dream, along with that of our ancestors, by making aliyah and settling in the Land of Israel.

I still remember the heady feeling that I had, walking through the streets of Jerusalem in the initial days after our arrival.

As much as I had enjoyed visiting the country as a tourist over the years and seeing the sites, there was nothing quite like the emotion that gripped me as I took in my surroundings as a proud new resident of the reborn Jewish state.

From waking up to the sounds of Hebrew on the radio, to catching a glimpse of the walls of the Old City at sunset, I could sense my soul stir in a way I had never experienced before.

Yes, I thought to myself, I have indeed truly come home.

I'm a little older now, of course, with less hair on my head and a bit more cynicism under my belt. But I still look back on that moment as one of the proudest of my life, when I inextricably tied my fate, and that of my family, with the unfolding destiny of the Jewish people.

By its very nature, immigration is a form of transformation, one that involves a profound yet paradoxical mix of uprooting and planting anew. But the act of relocation is far more than merely a matter of geography. It goes to the very core of a person's identity, forcing one to confront who they are and who they wish to be.

I am still grappling with many of those questions, and perhaps I always will. That, after all, comes with the territory.

But as I consider the momentous times we are living in, and the fulfillment of G-d's promises to His people Israel, there is no place I'd rather be. Right here - in the center of it all.