The Joy and Pain of Loving Israel

My latest from the Times in Israel….

Thursday evening, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped. You’ve heard the details by now.

You know the days when you don’t want to go to work? In a cubicle, at least you can fake it for 8 hours. Last night, I took the stage at the Off the Wall Comedy Basement in Jerusalem and was in no mood to try to make people laugh. What to do?

Since I first fell for Israel sometime in high school, this torrid love affair has been an emotional roller-coaster with more highs and lows than any human relationship should ever experience.

Here are just a few examples. You surely have your own.

I feel euphoric celebrating each and every Yom Haatzmaut in this country, barbecuing and partying with friends on possibly the most special day of the year to be in Israel.

I feel pained on Yom Hazikaron listening to the sad music, commemorating those who have died defending this country, possibly the most special day of the year to be in Israel.

I feel proud when Israeli hospitals treat Syrian refugees, or even yesterday, Mahmoud Abbas’s wife.

I feel like I want to bang my head against the wall when a flotilla tries to break the Gaza blockade and the world blames us for the ensuing casualties.

I feel love when I see how the citizens of this country unite in solidarity in times of trouble.

I feel a nauseous deja vu when the rockets start again from Gaza and we are condemned for responding in Operation Pillar of Defense.

I feel like I’m in a dream when Gilad Shalit comes home alive after living through an unimaginable hell.

I feel sick at a false alarm that Gilad Shalit might be released when we can’t come to an agreement.

I feel on top of the world at an Israeli wedding when “Ayn Makom Acher” plays and I really feel like there is no other place.

I feel tremendous sadness when I miss my family and friends in the United States and think about life passing by with them so far away.

Naomi Shemer said it best:
“Al hadvash v’al ha’oketz, al hamar v’hamatok”
Over the honey and the sting, over the bitter and the sweet

Welcome to Israel and to membership of the Jewish people. A blessing and a curse, joy and pain, the honey and the sting.

Is it worth it? This bipolar back-and-forth?

So what do you do when you take the stage after a horrible news day? Well, in this country, you bring it up, you acknowledge the pain, and then you move on and laugh. What else can we do?

Yes, it is worth it being a part of this special place. It is always worth it. May G-d and the IDF bring home these boys.

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