Monday, November 29, 2021

Jewish Voices: A moving and moving essay on Israel

Originally from South Africa, Razief argues that America is still the greatest nation in the world, and he is a staunch defender of its diversity. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

Q: How was your trip to Israel?

A: Israel is one of the most diverse places I have been — both in the people that I meet and the culture that surrounds me. Israel is a capital to a religion that embraces all different faiths. I was welcomed with open arms by people from every background and culture imaginable. From the rabbis in the ultra-Orthodox community to the Western Wall, to the Haredim, the ultra-Orthodox Jews, I saw the power of coexistence in action. Whether it was the rabbi who I spoke with on the other side of the wall at the Gush Etzion Junction in Jerusalem, the children from the kibbutz where I spent a week and the Turkish child who stayed at my Tel Aviv Hotel, I was impressed with the beauty and values of the people of Israel.

Q: What was the atmosphere like in Israel?

A: I saw it all. Each place I visited had the same energy. The music blared as my kids played in the parks and playgrounds. The energy was so infectious I forgot that I was in Israel. It was in these parks that I heard and saw unbelievable memories of my grandparents, of my parents and their families. In one park, three generations of my family, from my parents to grandparents and great-grandparents, were all there together enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes we were in the car and we hear a song or somebody speaks and it is all we can do to remain quiet and keep from bursting into tears. The people were very welcoming. So many people showed me love and warmth, and it was the best feeling of all.

Q: What was your final impression of Israel?

A: After the grace of the country’s hospitality, its beauty and its support for human rights I still believe that America is the greatest country in the world. If the United States can have all of the things that Israel has, more people should visit, learn about and understand why the people are so much in love with the nation of Israel.

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