Not only do dwellers in the Holy Land learn Torah and reinforce their Jewish identity, they also experience life in a Torah-rich milieu. Here, where every handful of dirt is a blessed handful, where the sky over Jerusalem is the blue of tzitzis and of Shamayim, there are words that everyone, regardless of their hashkafa, uses to welcome Shabbot. Eretz Yisrael’s holidays are the feasts and fasts marked in Torah. What’s more, here, the words of our prayers necessarily refer to our day-to-day experiences.
When we pray for rain, here, it is not just a tradition, or a law, it is a reality, with newscasts frequently measuring the height of the Kinneret. When we conclude the Pesach Seder with a prayer for meriting celebrating that festival next year in Jerusalem, we are not referring to a luxury hotel, but to the holiness of our capital, to our yearning for Moshiach, and to our desire to witness the restoration of the Temple. When we sing the perek in Tehillim, which promises that we will not forget Jerusalem, we are not singing about the location of international embassies, but about whom we are and, more importantly, Whom Hashem was/is/will be.
Our life as olim has not been the stuff of storybooks, but the gist of narratives. Such seemingly topsy-turvy living, truly, consists of one blessing after another. From pilot trips to housing, schooling, language acquisition, and employment, my family’s acculturation has been a gift.