It all started in the 1950’s with my childhood in a Jewish family on the Canadian prairies. The Nazi atrocities of WWII had affected my family, as they had many Jews world-wide, with grief, fear, and determination to prevent anything like that happening again. The founding and flourishing of the state of Israel as a Jewish homeland was seen as the essential route to safety.
In my younger years, my main connection to Israel was my love for singing and dancing to the Hebrew folk music that had spread to my home continent. It was another version of the musicality of the Hebrew language that I came to love through prayer.
As adolescence brought both expanded understanding and some questioning of family values, I found myself reluctant to embrace what I saw as the polarizing danger of Israel’s extreme nationalist zeal. I understood the felt necessity, given the history of persecution and current-day threats, but I had little desire to travel there and feel the wash of that toughness. By my late teens, when most North American Jews of my generation were eager to travel to Eretz Yisrael, I declined. It was partly due to this reluctance, and partly because of my high sensitivity to over-stimulation that any substantial journey, but especially this one, was sure to stir. Besides, life was full and busy with other endeavours.
It has been said about life that ‘the days are long but the years are short’, and so I find myself in my 69th. year, on the verge of becoming a grandmother, strangely compelled to set foot on Israeli soil. As the mystery would have it, the timing was right for me to finally accept the offer of an Israeli-born friend to be my ‘tour-guide’.