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June 5, 2013

Israel’s Newest “Settler” Settles In

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/im_israels_newest_settler/

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Ariel sunset

Please forgive my hiatus in blogging. I was busy making aliyah and starting my new position as Director of Communications and Visitor Services at Ariel Development Fund, getting settled into a new apartment, buying furniture, etc. Baruch Hashem, Israel's newest "settler" is settling in....

It is incredible to live here, in the magical and maliciously maligned Judea & Samaria, especially in the City of Samaria, Ariel, a place that is constantly growing, building, thriving, thinking, a place where creative Zionism is in full swing. There have been ups and downs, as with any big move, with notoriously lax Israeli customer service not helping.

Sometimes I think...yeah, I could have lived a more materially comfortable life in the United States, advocating for Israel to Americans. We know how profitable that endeavor could be if one is to judge by the top ranking salaries of Jewish professionals.

But now, my ultimate "donation" to Israel is...my life, my being, everything I am. Every emotion. Every heartbreak. Every victory. My Zionist contributions include getting a (well-deserved!) manicure from the Russian immigrant down the street, eating Arab-made hummus at the neighborhood joint, trying to impress upon Home Center the meaning of "the customer is always right."

The donation is not really to Israel--it's to a better world, to the safety of individuals everywhere, especially Jews, and to the pursuit of ultimate Jewish self-actualization.

Israelis appreciate and sometimes rely on American support, but, in all honesty, it's easier to be a Zionist in the US. Sometimes I think it's much easier to fight on campus for Israel than it is to buy a car here. (Forget living surrounded by enemies. I hardly think about that lately.) It's easier to donate to Zionist charity than budgeting for that overtaxed car and Israel's exorbitantly expensive gas. It's easy to rave about Israel's economy when you don't have to live through its confused capitalistic-socialist system. Living here is Zionism without ever uttering the word "Israel" or "Arab."

But for every difficulty, there's a benefit, such as the constant invitations to Shabbat meals by "strangers"; being a headline rather than reading one; an abiding sense that I'm an obstacle to...war. But one of my happiest moments recently came from just walking through the cool night air to Ariel's Sports & Recreation Center ("The Country Club" for locals), thinking: I'm walking through a great Zionist dream, a city built out of a will of stone, where just the gym (a very nice one by the way) is a line of defense for the good, the holy, the true.

So if you want to make the biggest contribution to Israel, find a way to join me.

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