Why did I choose to make Israel my home? For me, it was a matter of obedience, rather than choice.
The call of God has been reverberating in my spirit from childhood:
Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to [the] land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).
Even though the words were deep in my spirit, I did not know the Word of God personally until I was a young adult.
I grew up in a traditionally Jewish and very Zionist home in New York where we, for a time, went to synagogue on Shabbat, yet more carefully observed Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. My brothers and I learned a number of Bible stories and enough Hebrew to pray. We were sent to a Zionist summer camp in the Catskill Mountains, which was run by Israeli shlihim (emissaries), who deepened our love for our ancient homeland.
There in the Catskills, we were awakened in the middle of the night by our madrihim (guides) to play a game called Hityashvut (Settlement). We were marched into the interior of the forest to build a “settlement” before dawn to evade the “British occupiers” of our Land.
During another game at night, the camp was divided into Israeli and British teams. The Israeli team had to cross the nearby lake in rafts and then try to sneak into “British Mandatory Palestine,” our camp, which was being guarded by the British team. I never got to be a part of the Israeli team, but, finally after college, I made aliyah and became an Israeli citizen! Previously, I had spent one summer on a kibbutz and one college year at an Israeli university.
From the first moment that I arrived, I felt at home. Idealistic and Zionistic, I joined the Israel Defense Forces, convinced that I would spend the rest of my life here and that the IDF was a necessary starting point. However, as I learned Hebrew and began settling in the Land, my idealism became tarnished. Incredibly, to me, after four years I turned around and went back to the United States. There I began the journey to the One who would give me a solid and strong—Biblical—foundation for living in Israel as a Jew and a believer.
Through my older brother and his Christian wife, I was provoked to jealousy and began to read the Bible for the first time in my life. Because I was so challenged to find out if Yeshua was indeed the Messiah, I began my search by reading the New Testament. Afterward, I read the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures, where I joyously discovered that everything that I had come to believe in the New Testament about Yeshua was completely confirmed.
Also, the prophecies concerning the return of the Jewish people to Israel became alive to me, and the Holy Spirit began to stir within me to return to Israel, this time with a firm foundation and a strong longing to see my people not only come home to their Land but, most importantly, to their Messiah.
Following my second aliyah, I became part of a Messianic congregation and now work for a believing organization assisting Jewish people to make aliyah and to settle in the Land. Life in Israel is still difficult, yet so rewarding this time with opportunities for service, sharing my faith with those who want to hear and engaging in intercession.
The Light of Yeshua can never be tarnished, and it appears to me that when we Messianic believers gather together throughout this Land to worship Yeshua, it is like a sweet fragrance before the “throne of grace.” Yes, this is what it will be one day when the Scriptures are finally fulfilled concerning the remnant: And so all Israel will be saved…(Romans 11:26)!
The choice to live in Israel is simply the irresistible call of the LORD God of Israel.