Ninth in Arutz Sheva's aliyah series.
"Just make sure you come back home," my mother warned me at the airport when I was about to leave Chicago and embark on my first trip to Israel. That was 36 years ago. I didn't quite end up following her instructions, as I never returned to the US for any length of time.
But actually, I did come back home—to Eretz Yisrael. I joined the ranks of Jewish immigrants who, after thousands of years of exile, came back to the Land that G-d gave to all Jews of all backgrounds, for all times.
Today, I thank G-d all the time that I merited to make Aliyah and to live in our one and only Jewish Homeland. Honestly, there is no place like Israel. It is extraordinary. It's special. And it's unique in every way.
Our tiny country, surrounded by enemies and always struggling for existence, is once again alive and kicking, and steadily filling up with Jews of every kind – from everywhere. Miraculously revived, flourishing and developing at an amazing pace, Israel is incredibly advanced in every field of life: medicine, education, technology, science, humanity and more. It is the spiritual center of the world where G-d's Divine Presence is absorbed in everything, every place and every Jewish soul. In this Holy Land, there are not only Jews everywhere, but also Judaism, Jewish history, Jewish customs and traditions, Jewish holidays, Jewish food, and of course, LOTS of Jewish mothers(!).
And that's not all. Israel is a country of miracles; where wars are won against unfathomable odds; where crops and flowers grow right up out of the desert sand; where no matter what troubles come along, life always continues, the people always keep going and the country always moves forward.
But Israel is not perfect. Like anywhere in the world, it has its ups and downs, its betters and its worse, its successes and its failures. So yes, there is also room for improvement. And THAT'S where making Aliyah comes in.
During these past 36 years, I've seen a plethora of possible Aliyah candidates. Many come to the Land of Israel desiring or expecting a "little America" and end up leaving. Others go with hopes of returning to Israel for good… some day. But those who develop a true, strong and unbreakable bond, stay. Becoming official new immigrants, these new olim replant their roots in the Land, build a new life for themselves and grow with the people and the country.
They reap the benefits of living in Israel. And they receive all that the Promised Land has to offer.
It's not only that we want to share with you, our fellow Jews from all the ends of the earth. We actually need your help; we really need you here!
But it's not just about receiving. It's also about giving. Each one of us living in Israel is giving of ourselves, helping make the country strong, healthy, independent and at peace. Just by being here, we are contributing to the development and security of the Jewish nation and our Jewish State. Every Jew who makes his or her home in Eretz Yisrael is vital, and has an important, invaluable role to play in physically and spiritually building up the Land. Each one of us is blessed with the privilege, the opportunity-- the responsibility of helping shape the country's future for all of the Jewish nation.
How incredible is that?!
We who are already in Israel, Sabras and olim, don't want to be here on our own. We want our Jewish brothers and sisters here with us—sharing in the blessings and being a part of everything. We could do all the work alone, receiving for our great efforts the grand prize with all its glorious, radiant treasures just for ourselves. But, we'd rather share with the rest of our big family, who we are waiting for and longing to join us. And actually, it's not only that we want to share with you, our fellow Jews from all the ends of the earth. We actually need your help; we really need you here!
We Jews have a mission. All of us. To build, restore, renovate and fortify this beautiful home that G-d provided for us. We've been entrusted to safeguard and to embrace it. To create within its Divine walls a harmonious, just and moral, meaningful and awe-inspired Jewish world.
Together, united under one roof, just think what unbelievable things we could do! Just think what we could be! An inspiring, spiritually and physically connected force? A light unto the nations?
The process has already begun. The foundation is already built. And, we're moving forward.
Don't miss out.
Just make sure you come back home.
Batya Kroopnick lives in Beit El and is author of "For Better and For Worse: An Israel Odyssey"