by Barb Bailie
I confess I am wildly, passionately in love! It’s not an infatuation but a deep, abiding love that started more 40 years ago when I was halfway around the world. Anyone out there interested in hearing more about this love affair? Well, I’m not going to wait for your answer—I’m going to just dive right in.
The object of my affection is the State of Israel....its people, its vitality, its diversity, its physical beauty, its layers upon layers of history that keep revealing its secrets, its struggle to survive and thrive, the way it inspires my passion and sets my heart afire. How did this all start?
I was raised in a community with a small Jewish population. I always felt somewhat embarrassed about being different from most of the people around me in those conforming 50’s. But when my husband and I went on a Young Leadership mission to Israel in the late 60’s, I felt transformed the minute I stepped off the plane onto the tarmac at Lod Airport in Tel Aviv and looked around me. EVERYONE was Jewish! In the ten days we were there, I kept pinching myself—I didn’t have to quietly conceal who I was. I could truly be me!
I carried two books with me on that trip: Exodus by Leon Uris and The Source by James Michener. I was spellbound when I saw with my own eyes places that were described in those books. The prison in Akko and the terrace at the King David Hotel (Exodus), the zigzag gate and the tunnel leading to the well at Tel Megiddo (The Source). Seeing these sights drove home the fact that these books were not totally fiction—they were based on history, MY history. The history of all those around me.
Since that time, I’ve come down from Cloud 9. My love is tempered with realism and sometimes frustration and irritation. I know that Israel has many challenges and problems. I know that it’s far from perfect. But what love doesn’t have its downside? The fact is that Israel is committed to overcoming those challenges and it needs my help. And, it needs your help to continue to grow and flourish as the spiritual and historical homeland of our Jewish people.
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