“Up until 1948, the Jewish nation had no one at the other end of the 911 call, we were a nation without a home.” So explained the guide at the Israel Independence Museum in Tel Aviv as he described the situation of Holocaust survivors post-WWII. “How do you know the war is over? When you can pack and go home. The U.S. packed and went home. The British packed and went home. The Jews had nothing to pack and no home to go to.”
I shudder thinking about it. I’ve lived in four states and a different apartment every day since I left home to go to college, and yet, I always had a home base, a permanent address, a place to call in a crisis, a place to return. I’ve had apartments that became a home, and rooms that remained foreign. But no matter where I slept at night, I always knew I had a home with my family as a safety net. Hence the unbelievable meaning the David Ben Gurion’s declaration of the state of Israel in 1948. A Jewish Homeland. Not a land filled with housing and aid, but a land to call their own. Home. It’s where we are supposed to be safe and protected, cherished and loved.
Without a home lies only fear and vulnerability, isolation, and loneliness. So for the first time I get a glimpse of how Israel must have felt like the national parent for desperate immigrants. The replacement for a home destroyed and life erased. I get it a bit more, get a touch of the Zionist bug, understanding a little more why so many kiss the soil upon arriving in Israel.
Its the same reason why I kiss my parents when I go home to visit.