On this Yom Ha’atzmaut, inspired by fellow bloggers Ima on (and off) the Bima and Rabbi Paul Kipnes, I’ve compiled my own list of 13 things I love about Israel. Although I’ve been there only twice (both times within the last six years), and haven’t yet had the pleasure of a Dead Sea float, an Eilat mud bath or a sunrise hike to Masada, there’s still plenty I know and love:
1. The tarmac at the old Ben Gurion Airport: wet, oily, dirty, Israel!
2. Breakfast of briny olives, cucumber and tomato salad, thick yogurt, smoky cheese and crusty bread. Who needs Cheerios or Kix?!
3. The cool clear water of the Mediterranean. It’ll wash away whatever ails you.
4. Ben Yehuda Street. Thus far I’ve only had a chance to rush through right before Shabbat, as the shopkeepers were closing up, but someday (hopefully soon), I know I’ll stroll through leisurely on Motzei Shabbat.
5. Riding along the highway in a tour bus and feeling a chill with the sudden realization that I’m in Israel!
6. Waving to oh-so-many familiar faces during kabbalat Shabbat services at Kehilat Kol Haneshama.
7. Rolling a tiny note like a chiffonade before stuffing it into the ancient crevices in the Western Wall.
8. Standing at the Haas Promenade overlooking Jerusalem of Gold.
9. Israeli flags flying in crystalline skies.
10. The “only in Jerusalem” experience of bumping into people you know, but didn’t know would be there at the same time. (Yes, it happened to me the very first time I was there…and the second time, too!)
11. The peppery onion board sold by an unnamed bakery on Jaffa’s Razi'el Street.
12. The view from the patio of the King David Hotel.
13. The idea that my next visit isn’t too far in the future…and even if it is, I know that it’s definitely worth the wait.
Happy birthday, Israel….see you again soon!