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February 21, 2022 11:21 am
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What I Miss About Israel

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Opinion

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks through the snow near the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site on a snowy morning in Jerusalem’s Old City, January 27, 2022. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

This week (finally!) the Israeli government is expected to announce an end to restrictions on tourism to Israel. I haven’t been to Israel in over two years, the longest period in my adult life. I cant wait to visit Israel very soon.

At the essence of my being is the fact that I am Jewish, and a Zionist. Not being in Israel feels like a part of me is missing. I simply cannot wait for the special feeling of being in Israel.

In no particular order, here are the many reasons I miss Israel:

I simply miss being in a Jewish country; all of it — hearing Hebrew, seeing the Israeli flag — the blue and white Jewish star which is omnipresent.

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I miss scharma with humus on lafa bread, with those great pickles. I miss all those little dishes they bring you before the main meal. I miss the hot, crunchy bread. I miss the pictures of Sephardic rabbis in those stores with blasting music.

I miss Fridays on Shenkin Street in Tel Aviv, watching people. I miss walking the shuk with vendors screaming out prices for freshly squeezed juices. I miss the amusing street performers on stilts, or clowns with street theatre.

I miss driving to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and ascending those hills.

I miss praying at the Western Wall, and seeing the lions of Judah, and those elderly women who give out red strings for charity as you descend down the steps and see the Kotel. I miss kissing the wall and praying for good things, and thanking G-d for all we have. I miss putting on tefillin, with Chabad there, and then walking away from the Kotel looking at it.

I miss going to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and seeing Judaica. I miss those Birthright tours with fresh-faced youngsters, remembering myself on group tours in my Betar days.

I miss visiting the Jabotinsky institute and Begin Center and the Etzel museum, and remembering the heroism of the many Jabotinsky followers who helped form the State of Israel.

I miss Turkish coffee with a great Israeli breakfast.

I miss Israeli music. How I would love to go to an Omer Adam concert and see dancing Israelis — proud Israelis.

I miss seeing young Israelis in IDF uniforms. The Jewish army — what a beautiful sight.

I miss communicating in my far-from-perfect Hebrew, and learning new Israeli slang.

I miss my Israeli friends, and visiting their homes.

I miss the day trip to the Dead Sea that I make every time I am there. No matter what time I go, it is too hot, my feet burn, and then I go to the spas and cold pools afterwards.

I miss visiting Hebron — the toughest Jewish neighborhood in the world, and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where our patriarchs and their wives are buried.

I miss visiting northern Israel, and seeing the border of Lebanon. I miss the day-to-day life of how normal life is in Israel.

I miss everyone saying Shabbat Shalom, and how the country comes to such a slow pace on Friday afternoons.

I miss the great city of Tel Aviv, truly one of the most electric cities in the world. I miss riding those scooters, and the electric energy of Tel Aviv, where there is truly always something to do.

I miss the regularity of Jewish things everywhere — seeing religious Jews everywhere, seeing mezuzahs on every door, the normality of seeing Jewish street names, etc.

I miss the Israeli attitude of arguing and chutzpah.

I miss the diversity of Jews — and seeing the difference from the Jews in America. Israel has Jews from all over the world.

I miss feeling in touch with what Israel really is — the songs, the movies, the characters on TV shows, the new slang, the European music that we don’t hear in the United States.

There are so many things I miss about Israel.  I just miss Israel, and I can’t wait to visit.

Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur and author. Torossian lives in New York City with his daughters.

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