My heart and soul long for closeness with G-d, my true self, my people and our land

I spent part of the morning studying a map of Israel.

While I’ve never stepped foot in/on the Holy Land, my son is in high school there this year. Each time I thought I would get to travel there, G-d decided it wasn’t the right time yet.

My heart and soul often feel oddly disconnected from my body — pulled toward a place I’ve only heard about from others — separated by an ocean and indecision over if and how to make ‘the trip’.

Living on the east coast, each time I see the Atlantic, which is often, I say aloud — “Israel and Alex are over there.”

Growing up I didn’t feel a connection to Israel. Though I was born Jewish, living in the suburbs of the U.S. (before the prevalence of the Internet) left me relatively naive of my own religion and roots.

After a magical Shabbat dinner and lots of attention from Chabad shluchim in the Tampa Bay area, I fell in love with my heritage and spent the next 15 years trying to understand and embrace it, and myself.

So now, as summer approaches we try to navigate if and when we can take ‘the trip,’ including paying for tickets, which kids to bring with us, and where to go while we are there.

I’ve heard so many second-hand stories of this mysterious land that I long for, it’s almost inconceivable that I may actually see it for myself someday.

Today, Israelis and Jews around the world observe Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) to honor the brave souls who protected our land and our people. I’ll attend an event at my daughter’s school this evening and try to feel the significance and weight of this day from afar.

But the truth is, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe said, we never truly know who is ‘close’ and who is ‘far’.

My heart and soul always long for connection and closeness with G-d, with my true self, and with my people and our land — wherever on the map I may be.

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