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I was born in Beersheba, but am I really an Israeli?

by Ilana Angel

August 22, 2011 | 12:37 am

As Beersheba was attacked this past weekend, I couldn’t help but think about how different my life is because my parents left Israel.  My mother was born in Egypt and moved to Israel as a newborn.  My father was from England, and made Aliyah to Israel as a young man to serve in the army.

My parents met while both were serving in the IDF.  They got married in 1964, my sister was born in Haifa in 1965, I was born in Beersheba in 1966, my father fought in The Six Day War in 1967, and in 1968 we left Israel for England, and waited for our immigration to Canada to be approved.

Hebrew is my first language, but grew I up up in Canada and have not been there is 25 years.  My mother did not speak English until I started kindergarten and I used to be fluent in Hebrew. I can’t read or write it, but I still speak it.  Broken Hebrew to be sure, but still pretty good.

I don’t remember my childhood in Israel, but I remember the almost two years I spent there in my twenties, and I loved it.  I had a wonderful time and can vividly recall not wanting to leave, yet now, all these years later, it feels very far away, and I have no interest in going back.

Israel is a much different country now, from when I was there a quarter of a century ago.  I love Israel, and am proud to be an Israeli.  I got my job at The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation because I spoke Hebrew and that job changed my life.

It’s not enough to simply say I am an Israeli.  It’s also not my birth certificate from Israel that makes me an Israeli.  My soul is in Israel.  All the best parts of my mother are Israeli, and those are the things that have been passed along to me.  I am my Israeli mother’s daughter.

I need to support Israel in a more tangible way.  I need to pay closer attention to what is happening there, support the country with my vote to a presidential candidate that will support her, and give financial support to the agencies within Israel that help her people.  It’s quite easy.

I sent my son to Israel the year of his Bar Mitzvah.  I thought seeing the history of Israel would allow him to embrace his Judaism better, and it worked.  He came back with a sense of pride for our faith and for Israel.  Maybe it’s time for me to go for the same reasons.  A refresher.

Lots of people are born places, then leave as children, and have no lasting connection to where they were born.  Israel is different.  As a Jew, it is the home of my faith, my people, my past, and my future.  Israel matters and I have forgotten that.  I love her and it’s time I showed it.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Israel.  Not just the Jews, but all the people of Israel.  I hope to come back home soon and look forward to the day when there is peace for everyone who lives there.  Many think peace will never happen in Israel.  To those people I say,  keep the faith.

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