For the Rosh Ha'Shana eve dinner I went with my girlfriend to her uncle's house in Ber Sheva. I've been here almost four years now but celebrating the holidays always kicks me back into that mindset where I notice just how Jewish Israel really is.
We got to Ber Sheva around seven, just as the holiday was coming in. We hit a bit of traffic on the way down as other families made their way to family dinners.
As we sat on the porch waiting for the other family members to arrive people walked down the street, wearing kippot and heading off for prayers at the synagogue.
There was nothing remarkable about the scene really. It felt like any other holiday that I saw growing up in the states. But of course here it was a Jewish holiday that caused the country to come to a standstill. Here everyone says Shana Tovah, Happy New Year, and the holiday is all around you.
I still get a kick out of that feeling. People who hate Israel often come up with complex and elaborate reasons why the country came into existence. They prefer to see Israel as the result of a very strange, unique, and dangerous ideology – Zionism.
This of course has nothing to do with reality. Zionism and the Zionist movement are really just fancy names for a very basic desire among Jews. That desire is to feel like a normal people, like people in countries everywhere else in the world.
It is desire to have a home, a place that is permanent, and a place in which you are the master of your own fate.
It is the most basic desire in the world, and in Israel, on the holidays, Jews know that this is their home.