My God. Why would anyone want to live in such a country?

Sometimes from comments people make, new posts are born. This is one of them.

Anonymous (sorry, I love your comment, but don’t know your name), left this comment yesterday: “my god. why would anyone want to live in such a country?”

Please allow me to explain.

There are several questions here built into one. You ask “why would anyone want to live in such a country?”

Years ago, someone asked me a similar question – or I’d like to think a question born out of a similar sense of curiosity. I answered it in a post called “What’s it actually like in Israel?” I could copy and paste the whole post, but I’ll ask you to click and read it. I’ll just put a bit of it here because it is important:

Israel is the most amazing country – strong because it has to be, caring because that’s what we are. Our emergency teams have flown around the world, at a moment’s notice. We have pulled survivors from earthquake-destroyed buildings, we have rescued survivors from the great tsunami a few years ago. And, because of all that we have suffered here, we have become world experts in identification and handling of dead bodies – giving them the honor and respect they were denied in death.

Israel stands for Jews around the world, so no where can a country attack its Jewish citizens without knowing Israel will respond. We have gathered our people from Yemen and Ethiopia and Russia, even under fire. And today, quietly while the world does little to stop the suffering in Darfur, Sudanese refugees know that if they can somehow get past the Egyptians (who have beaten them and shot them), these Moslem refugees may actually find shelter in Israel.

We welcomed the boat people from Vietnam, some of whom still live here, when the world debated and wondered. We stand, even if we stand alone, against Iran because we know what till happen if Iran goes nuclear.

And yes, we put our sons on the borders of our country and ask them to sacrifice three years of their lives defending our land at a time when they too would prefer to get on with their lives, have fun with their friends, go to bars, and do nothing that has anything to do with wearing a uniform and carrying a gun.

What is it actually like in Israel? A lot of times, it is like living in heaven here on earth – waking to the beauty of this land and simply thanking God that today, yet again, you were lucky enough to awaken here.

Why would anyone want to live in such a country? The answer is that I could never live anywhere else.  Yes, my daughter has been traumatized by a brutal murder by men who come from a culture that is so foreign to what we hold dear. I do not understand how or why someone could slit the throat of an infant, stab a young child in the heart. I do not understand…and I hope I never will.

But I will not surrender the beauty of living here because that would be so much worse. I will not surrender to their terror and my daughter will learn – with love and patience, that we can protect her, that all is in the hands of God, that she belongs here in the land of her birth.

Why would anyone want to live in such a country? I would ask how anyone could or would choose to live anywhere else. I am so blessed to live in this land. To breathe this air, to touch and be touched by all that happens here. I work in Jerusalem – can you imagine that? To be there almost every day of my life, to see the ancient stones and know, day by day, that this is the gift God has given to me and to my children.

Nothing is free in life, not the houses we live in, not the air we breathe. We pay for it all. Sometimes the price is heartbreaking; I can’t argue that but the joy of living here every day outshines everything.

And I’ll close with what I ended the last article with last time:

May God bless the land and the people of Israel with health, with happiness, with prosperity, and yes, with peace so that the day will come when our sons won’t have to go to war and those living outside of our country will come without fear and find out what Israel is actually like.

And add one more – May the day come when our children no longer live in fear, when our neighbors do not worship death and practice barbaric crimes in the name of some religion that cannot have come from any true and just God.

5 Comments on My God. Why would anyone want to live in such a country?

  1. Moedim L’Simcha Paula
    Paula, this blog has to one of the best you have ever written. Every word, every feeling and emotion just spills out.
    Israel is the best country to live in. It is our home! The Only in Israel stories that we all tell are unique. When I look at the sky, and see the most magnificent blue color, I know that Hashem has given us his beauty.
    Even the missiles that have been launched from Gaza to my back yard, let me know that we live in a very special part of the world.
    Living in Israel is a privilege and a honor. I pray that more Jews COME HOME!


  2. Paula

    When we came on aliya over twenty three years ago we ended up at the Mercaz Klita in mevasseret Zion. Our second eldest daughter was asked in the local malachi Dai School about a month after we landed why she had come on aliya – her reply “because out tefillot go straight up to Hashem without aving t travel around the world until they reach here” – she was 8!

  3. thank you for your eloquent and beautiful answer, and for taking my question in the spirit in which it was asked.
    i just wonder: is all this beauty and meaning worth risking your kids’ life or emotional well-being?
    again, thank you for responding in a positive way, and taking my question as a genuine question and not as a rhetorical ‘you must be nuts to move to that place.’

  4. Thanks, Miriam and Abba.

    And Anonymous – I’m glad I was able to give your comment the respect it deserved while answering with the best answer I could offer. Is all the beauty and meaning worth risking my children’s lives? Isn’t life always a risk? The week I moved to Israel, a mother and daughter were “car-jacked” – the little girl was put on the side of the road; the mother was taken somewhere and murdered. The police figured she had less than $5 with her. Did she risk her life by going shopping? Apparently so.

    On a daily basis, my life and that of my children is safer than in most places – there is less crime here, less meaningless violence. Yes, there are these traumas we live with, but my daughter doesn’t have to be taught to fear strangers (other than the Arab workers that she sometimes watches – not because I have taught her because she is smart and hears the news). She is more independent than most American kids, for example, because she has more freedom. There is a greater amount of trust here. As an example – in America, if you were getting off a bus with a baby carriage, you might accept help with the carriage. In Israel, you might hand the baby down to a stranger and if you didn’t, they would say, “what, you’re more afraid of dropping the carriage than the baby?” And when you get off the bus and re-open the carriage – you will find the person cuddling your baby and suggesting you put a hat on her. Here you can walk in the street after an attack and just say to a stranger, “I can’t believe this happened.” And the stranger will look back and answer, “I know. Maybe tomorrow will be better.”

    It is such an incredible place to live. So so amazing.

  5. Simply beautifully said. Many a times I have been asked this question by people and I never thought that my reply was good enough. Your post put a whole new perspective on things that I and I’m sure others take for granted…the honor of living in Eretz Israel!
    Very few times you read something that moves you…but this was certainly one of them.
    Kol HaKavod Paula!!

    All the best,
    Ziv Namer

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