On a beautiful fall day in 1966, finally fulfilling a longtime dream, I took a train from Amsterdam, then a boat from Genoa, Italy, to Haifa. It was a five-day trip on a Turkish cargo boat with few passengers. On the fourth day we were told that we would reach land the next day around 5 a.m. I needed to be there, on the bow, to live the moment of approaching the land, the people, the city, the country.
Standing there in the chill, shivering, seeing Haifa come closer and closer, now with a gorgeous light enveloping it, like a golden shining halo, my breath was taken away. I was coming home! That was the feeling, a feeling that never left me, a feeling I carry with me every moment of my life.
I went on to stay in Israel through the Six-Day War in 1967, while many other young people, urged by their worried parents, returned home. Being a few years older, I was grateful I was able to stay and help in my kibbutz, taking the little ones to shelter when the siren sounded. I witnessed a plane, one of our own, shot down and land in our fields. I saw its very young pilot, immobile, still strapped in his seat. He gave his life that day so we would have a safe place in the world. It made my heart ache so very much, and at the same time it made me come closer to my people.
Today my heart aches deeply for my country, my people, as they are under threat, both from inside — through their own government’s actions — as well as from their neighbors.