A Land Where All Can Live in Peace

by Arliene Botnick, July 3, 2018

As a child, I listened frequently to one of the many “records” my dad had about Israel. There was the singing of Hatikvah by Al Jolson, a quaint ditty called, “The Jews Have Got Their Irish Up”, and perhaps my favourite, “I’m Going Home!”. If memory serves me, the 1st few lines were “I’m going home, to my own land, no more to roam…..I’ll pinch myself a few times before I will believe the Jews are having good times right here in Tel Aviv….”

That was a long time ago, in an era where jubilation, pride, religious fervour and hope marked my family’s joy at Israel having become a State.

Both my parents were immigrants; both had suffered even before WW II the discrimination, the anti-Semitism, the status of non-citizen in their eastern European homelands. Both had come to the “Goldena Medina” (The Land of Gold) to be free. Both saw the creation of the State of Israel as the fulfillment of Jewish destiny.

Neither of my parents ever got to Israel. The closest they came were through the songs I mentioned earlier. They saw Israel as the one place in the world where Jews could live freely as Jews. Yet they were proud, dedicated Canadians, holding Israel in their hearts, but never intending to make Aliyah.

I am a proud and dedicated Canadian, even though Canada at 150 years old still has many challenges and injustices to sort out (rights of minorities, corrupt leadership, education and job opportunities for all), and I still also have Israel in my heart. At 70, Israel is a very young country that also has many challenges and injustices to sort out.

But, unlike my parents, I have had the privilege and opportunity to visit Israel several times, each time having it always feel like “I’m going home”. My most recent visit was 3 generational – my daughter Robbin, my granddaughter Jennie and I. We spent 10 amazing days in our homeland, visiting many of the “tourist” sites including the city of David, the Western Wall, Yad V’Shem, the Haifa Gardens, Cesaria, Rosh Ha Nikra and of course our amazing twin congregation Darchei Noam in Ramat HaSharon. We walked through the 4 quarters in the old city, had coffee in the Mamilla Plaza, rode on the light rail to the Israel Museum and floated in the Dead Sea.

In Tel Aviv, we celebrated with the 250,000 attendees for Gay Pride Week and discussed with Ilana Dothan, President of our sister congregation, about the challenges and roadblocks facing Liberal Judaism in Israel. Even the installation of a much needed elevator in their shul was tied up in red tape!

So, now I am back in my Canadian home. The politics in the USA astound me. Our most recent Ontario election also astounds me, but Canada is my home and I will strive to help make it better! Israel too is my home and as much as possible, I will support Israel and work to make it truly become the home that I sang about with those old records, a land where all can live in peace.

Filed under: Educator's Message

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