When I was 12 years old, my family took our first trip outside the United States.
We came to Israel on a two-week family tour. It was July 1982. The Lebanon War had just begun. In retrospect, it was the first step on what has become my lifelong Zionist journey.
I was moved by everything I saw. The IDF soldiers hitchhiking home for leave from the battlefields in Lebanon looked like movie stars. Ma’aleh Adumim, now a major city, was a clutch of mobile homes in the desert but the gleam in the eyes of the settlers showed the promise of what was to come.
The markets of Jerusalem, the beaches in Tel Aviv, the shells of Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights and the fish in the Sea of Galilee captivated my imagination.
The Western Wall awoke me to the immutable fact that the Nation of Israel, the Land of Israel and the Law of Israel are indivisible.
Hearing Hebrew, the language of prayer shouted out from every corner filled me with awe. And seeing the multiethnic society of Jews from every corner of the world shook me to my core. After two thousand years, in an act of will with no parallel in human history, Jews of all races, backgrounds, and cultures; Jews with unique, fervently kept traditions came home and began patching together a people forcibly separated for 50 generations.