This past Tuesday, I marked the 11th anniversary of my Aliya to Israel. It was a special occassion for me. I took the time to reflect on how much has happened since I came here on July 17th, 2001. It was a tumultous move and a difficult time at first. I felt lost, not knowing what to do and where to begin. There were people who helped me along the way. Many people. But I still ran into trouble. I got into a lot of unnecessary fights with people I hardly knew. I was extremely aggressive and unsettled. I was a troubled young soul looking for a place to fit in.

Then there were the years in Ramat Aviv and Ramat Hasharon, the university studies, the dating scene and everything that followed. I had jobs, I lost jobs, I had a peace of mind, only to lose that as well, and finally, I had a woman I loved only to realize our ways were meant to seperate. I came closer towards organized Judaism, and drew away. The time wasn’t ripe. I wasn’t there yet.

I returned to America in a state of dizziness. I didn’t know where to go or whom to turn to. I felt lost and far from home. My home was now Israel and I was a stranger in this land. I stayed there for four years, recooperated from everything that had happened, and eventually rekindled my love for the Jewish way of life. I came closer to organized Judaism, attended a yeshiva in N.J., read everything I could get my hands on, and gained strength. I made lots of good friends who provided the moral support I needed at the time.

Half a year ago, I returned to the land of my dreams, a land I plan on staying in, marrying in, having a family and growing as a person in. I love this land with all my heart and soul and wouldn’t be against volunteering for the army here at some point after I’ve worked for a period of time. I feel that everything is ahead of me. I’ve gained new strength and new inspiration. I’m back to writing poetry and running: two of my favorite hobbies. I’m working. I’m reading a lot. I’m back home.

I want to thank Israel for everything this country has given me. The country and the the state because I love the country and state just as much as I love the land. It’s a special place and a special society. No, we’re not perfect and Moshiach hasn’t arrived yet, but we have a deeply-rooted obligation to settle the land. We can never reach completeness living in the Diaspora. It’s pretty simple. I want to thank Israel for being there for me. It’s great to be back!