1. For the 1971 bus driver who took a spontaneous detour to Sde Boker so thirty-five American teens could meet David Ben Gurion. I will never forget the afternoon nor Mr. Ben Gurion’s insistence that we learn Hebrew.
2. For Sachna’s searing cold shock of water.
3. For the Kotel’s time-and-tear-smoothed stones, for the crevice that accepted a young girl’s prayer.
4. For the mystery and delight of the Hebrew language, inviting us to break open heaven and find water (mayim/shamayim), to unlock compassion and find womb (rachamim/rechem).
5. For the creators of new words who maneuver an ancient language to accommodate modernity -- machshev (computer) from to think; mada h’torasha (genetics) from blending knowing, science, and inherit.
6. For seeping into my children’s bones, inspiring them, and being a land they look back on and forward to with both longing and anticipation.
7. For being that incomparable manic mix of camels and cars, niggunim and punk rock, cell phones and streimels.
8. For Naomi Shemer and Chadag Nachash. When my daughter was an infant I rocked her to sleep with Yerushalayim Shel Zahav. When she was a teen she rocked me out with Shirat Ha Sticker.
9. For Hadassah Hospital whose breakthroughs save and transform lives the world over.
10. For the gadna’a training. Never thought I’d have the guts to jump off a roof or shimmy between two trees on ropes tied ten feet off the ground.
11. For felafel, za’atar and salads without lettuce.
12. For the profound, complete, and utterly God filled silence my son and I shared as we stood in the shadow of Solomon’s Pillars during his Bar Mitzvah summer.
13. For the archeologists whose discoveries validate text taking ancient words from legend to history.
14. For Jerusalem’s star-studded sky of thirty-six years ago.
15. For embodying Am Yisroel Chai.
16. For spectacular beaches, museums galore, mall shopping, shuk shopping, night life, rivers to raft, hills to hike, trees to plant, roadside grapefruits to pick.
17. For your thinkers and tinkerers whose inventions revolutionize every field and industry from agriculture to defense to medicine to the environment.
18. But most of all for being the kind of country, a country of one, forever on the world’s stage, that has persevered for sixty years through war and betrayal, political upheaval and social conflict never losing sight of Judaism’s core command to choose Life.
Todah Rabah for being the hearth, open to all who feel the spark.
(c) Debra Darvick 2007. Debra Darvick's most recent work is This Jewish Life: Stories of Discovery, Connection and Joy. The book may be ordered from www.debradarvick.com or by calling the publisher at 800.880.8642