“If you are a Jew, this is your place on earth, for the time you have to live, be it long or short. It is a time forreturn,” Naomi Ragen writes.
I know I don’t write very often these days. Partly, it’s because I’m finishing a new book, and partly because of how really terrible it is these days to express an opinion, any opinion at all. The idea that we can be civil to each other, respect differences, listen to each other, has somehow disappeared. I think it began during the Obama-Jon Stewart era, when anyone who didn’t toe the line about his “wonderfulness” got a Jon Steward eye-roll. The ammunition of ridicule and vicious back-stabbing against those who disagree with the mainstream agenda has been picked up – to a lesser degree albeit- by Conservatives as well.
But I’d still rather open my mouth in a room of Conservatives than an Antifa rally, where I might not escape alive. I mourn for the freedom of speech that I was brought up to cherish as a United States citizen. Those who cannot hear their opponents and try to silence them, are only creating weapons that can so easily be turned against themselves at any time.
But that’s just my introduction. This is what I really wanted to tell you: I was walking down Prophets Street (Rehov Hanevi’im) in Jerusalem, thinking how lucky I was to be living my life in a place that has such a street. I was thinking how short life is, and how we live in such an incredibly special era, a time when miracles and prophecies are unfolding before our astonished eyes. You have only to read the Torah to see all that God predicted would happen to the Jewish people has happened and to realize that the time we are living in is when the good things that were promised are now coming true.
We are living at a moment in Jewish history when before our eyes the in-gathering of the exiles is taking place as Jews from all over the world flock towards Israel. I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that anti-Semitism is forcing many communities to rethink their commitment to remaining in the Diaspora.
And so, if you can only live once, for such a short time span, and you are living in this miraculous age, how can you deny yourself the great and powerful joy of living in Israel?
‘I Have Been Blessed’
My heart goes out to everyone who wants to come and for so many difficult reasons, like earning a livelihood and supporting a family, find that they cannot. But to those who can come, and who want to come, I want to encourage you. You cannot imagine what it is like to live in Israel, to walk the streets of Jerusalem, the hills of the Galilee, the desert sands of the Negev.
I came to Israel in 1972, and I can honestly say that all the blessings of my life- my success in my writing, my wonderful children and grandchildren, all flow from that fateful decision. I have been blessed. And everyone I know who made Aliyah with me back then and who are now matriarchs and patriarchs of beautiful families, can surely say the same.
It is out of great love that I write this to all of you. I wish I could bring every one of you here to live your life, to participate in the great rebuilding of our nation, to experience that wondrous sense of blessing that comes with participating with your whole heart, and mind, and body in God’s will to bring His people home. I wish you could experience miracles, as I do, every, single day, without fail. Even in our tragedies, there is the comfort of living in the embrace of family, millions of hands outstretched to share their caring compassion and genuine concern.
If you are a Jew, this is your place on earth, for the time you have to live, be it long or short. It is a time for return. This is God’s will, as the tides of history turn in His hands like the potter’s wheel. If you shake off the ceaseless onslaught of electronic media that pollute our minds and blind our eyes and deafen our ears, the true picture of what is happening is so clear: planeloads of Jews from every corner of the earth coming home.
If this opens your heart to think about it once again, then that’s all I can ask for. For your own sake.
With every blessing,
Naomi Ragen is the author of many novels, including several international bestsellers, and her weekly email columns on life in the Middle East are read by thousands of subscribers worldwide. An American, she has lived in Jerusalem for the past 40 years and was voted one of the three most popular authors in Israel.