In fifteen minutes, it will be 18 years since I boarded a plane with two little boys. Within minutes of boarding, we were taking off into the air. As the plane climbed into the skies above New York, Shmulik fell asleep. All of three and a half years of age, he couldn't possibly understand what was happening, where we were going, what impact it would have in his life.
Elie had just turned six. He too was into the moment. After takeoff, when the seat belt light was turned off, I put a blanket and pillow on the floor between the rows and eased Shmulik to the narrow space between the rows. There he slept for the next eight hours. Within a short while, the dark skies closed around us and Elie dozed off. I let him sleep spread across two chairs.
I was alone with my boys, alone with my thoughts. My husband had already come to Israel two months before. I was desperate to live here. It was my dream to come here, to live here, to be, of all things, Israeli. I had friends who wanted to be doctors - they became accountants. One wanted to be a lawyer; he became an engineer. All I ever wanted was to be Israeli and in those hours I thought my dream was coming true - finally.
My husband was there to meet me with flowers and a hug. Finally reunited, the dream was just beginning. There were moments of great happiness and moments of great sadness along these last 18 years.
Two children were born into our family here in Israel; two others joined us more recently. Our house is alive with noise and pets (birds and dogs and fish more recently). Visitors come regularly and are welcomed. My house is not elegant and fancy - but we have been blessed. Food is plentiful, we are warm in the winter and cool in the summer (well, when we aren't cold in the winter and hot in the summer).
We live among friends, work among friends. We are blessed to write about some of the amazing inventions Israel has sent out to the world. Today, I worked on documenting two medical devices and three major applications to fight spam and virus attacks and it is five minutes to midnight.
In five minutes, I will have been part of this nation for 18 years. I thought I would be Israeli when my feet touched the ground back on August 17, 1993. I was right in the technical sense but wrong in the social one. It took me almost fifteen more years to know my dream had come true. When Elie went into the army - the very day he put on the uniform for the first time, our moving to Israel had been completed.
Elie served his nation and served it well. He is not a murderer as some would call him. He did nothing wrong and sleeps well each night. We were so blessed in his service. He left proud of what he had done, who he had become. In the years to come, he will be called to the Reserves and he will go, for about the next 18 years, actually.
Though he has not formalized his citizenship yet, Yaakov served this nation and served it well. He lives in the United States with his beautiful wife and their amazingly adorable baby girl but I know that his heart is here and he yearns for the day he will bring his family home.
Shmulik is serving his nation and serving it well. He has dedicated these years to his country so that he can know he made this land his.
Chaim has yet to finalize his plans beyond the next year or so. He too came from afar to serve this land and does it with pride and determination.
And my youngest son is only 14. The army and its realities are years away for him - as it should be.
These are the sons of this country and each is a part of what has made me what I longed to be. It is just after midnight here in my homeland. Eighteen years I have lived here knowing there is no other land for me, no other place I could call home. By right, by history, by God, this holy land is mine.
Thank you, God. Thank you, Israel. Thank you, Yaakov, Elie, Chaim, and Shmulik. Thank you to all our sons and daughters who watch our borders, our skies, our shores. Thank you for my home, my dream.