One thing that Israelis like to do is travel. Go anywhere in the world that Jews can travel without getting killed (you can understand which countries are off limits) and there you will find an abundant supply of Israelis.

The first time I noticed it was when as a college student I was traveling through Europe. In Rome, I climbed to the top of the “Wedding Cake” monument to Victor Emmanuel and what did I find? Yep. Two Israelis. I have since done a lot of traveling (after all, in March of 1998, I officially became an Israeli!) and there we are– everywhere I look– at the top of the Festung in Salzburg, in the Salt Mines in Werfen, on a city tour bus in Budapest, in Moscow and St. Petersburg, on a boat on the Li River in Guilin, China. We are everywhere.

And in addition, we love to explore our own country. Many Israelis enjoy hiking and discovering all of the wonders of our land. Like us, many Israelis go three or four or five times a year to places in Israel they have never visited before to learn about the history (and every rock here has a history!), to see the enchanting views, to see the wildflowers, the migrating birds, the mountain ibexes, the waterfalls and pools. This is indeed a wondrous land and maybe the fact that Israel is so jam-packed with interesting places is what makes us believe that the world must be filled with additional places of interest.

One thing we Israelis love to do is to make contact with Jews living in cities throughout the world. There is a certain excitement about finding “family” wherever we go. Their very existence gladdens us and our visits to them strengthen both them and us.

It came as no surprise to me to find that Jews were involved in trade from earliest times, traveling the silk and spice routes, interacting with other cultures. When we were in China, many of the parallels between their culture and ours struck us as needing to have come from an interplay of the cultures. Certainly the private prayer of the Emperor in the Temple of Heaven for a good harvest reminded us of the high priest going into the Holy of Holies, the inner chamber of the Temple in Jerusalem, on Yom Kippur. The structure of their palaces and gardens was not dissimilar to the structure of the tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem.

The experience of traveling, whether in Israel or outside of it is always interesting and offers the opportunity to appreciate the vastness of creation, the beauty of the Earth, and, as Jews, our special place in the universe.

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