Yom Haatzmaut 2020

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This moment is like thousands of moments we’ve had before. 

Life in Israel has historically never been easy. Life here regularly includes war, rockets, threats, bombs, and stabbings. It’s rocky with instability; in current events and our politics. 

COVID is a new one for us.

But there is a reason why our country is growing. Why there are people from all over the world flocking to this little country to become a citizen. After the COVID situation improves- hopefully soon- the Ministry of Immigration is anticipating a massive surge of aliyah to Israel.

Because even through all the difficult moments, this place is home. 

I felt at home when we sang Ma Nishtana together from our balconies, in isolation on Seder night.

I felt at home when our country flew in eggs because they knew we needed it for our kugels and matza brei.

I felt at home when small business owners called out for help and the people themselves rallied together to support them.

I felt at home when people were singing hallel from the rooftops.

I felt at home when I saw people on the highways stand alongside their cars to remember the loss of our 6 million.

I felt at home when the flags of my people are still flying, in our now empty streets. 

I felt at home yesterday morning when I stepped out onto my porch and stood in silence with my neighbors for two minutes. The siren was wailing in pain. The jets flew overhead bearing witness to our country’s losses. And I stood with my daughter and listened. 

Sometimes being at home is just making a BBQ in isolation and trying to make the best of a difficult moment in time.

Today I will whisper into the flames “Next year WITH Jerusalem.” I’ll look out on her hills filled to the brim with people waiting to be reunited with each other. 

I’ll know that even though we are in isolation at home, there is no other place I would rather be.

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Shira Lankin Sheps grew up in New Jersey and went to Stern College for women. After graduating from Hunter College School of Social Work with her MSW in clinical social work, she worked in the clinical field, in marketing and photojournalism. She decided to start The Layers Project to help break down stigma and promote healing within our Jewish community. She feels strongly about presenting women, who are so often shown as shallow characters or fully removed from Jewish media spaces, as three-dimensional individuals whose lives are full and rich with resilience. Shira made aliyah with her family a year ago to Jerusalem.