The first time I stepped foot in the Land of Israel, I was five years old. I couldn’t comprehend where I was, but I knew I was in a place where my ancestors had walked, a place where I could comfortably live as a Jew, a place where I am welcomed by complete strangers, but more importantly a place I would soon realize was my home.
Ever since that first trip to Israel, I had a strong love for the people and the land but I couldn’t understand why. I kept going back and soon understood it. I was no different than many of the people around me, I could embrace the culture and the sense of belonging as soon as I got off my sixth flight to Israel, just as I had felt it my first few times.
When deciding what to do with my summer, I decided to spend the first four weeks of my summer in Israel, spending the first two weeks learning how to become an advocate on campus, and the last two embracing the land I love so much.
I learned how to stand up for my land, was able to embrace the culture of the State, and continue to call it my home. It’s not only my home, but the Jewish people’s home. It is the place where our ancestors walked, it is the place where our history became history, and a home for Jews everywhere. No matter where I am in the world, I am always thinking about my home, the Land of Israel.
Michelle is a current Hasbara Fellow and student at the University of Central Florida