I was born in Haifa, Israel. Israel became the country I called home first, the country that saw me take my first steps as well as where I made my first friends. Israel, though not currently my home, will always be home to me. Living in America, away from my family that has stayed in Israel, has taught me the importance of fighting for the Jewish state of Israel. However, the single most life-changing event that made me realize how crucial a Jewish state is was my trip with Shalhevet.

Shalhevet is a trip for California Bay Area Teens that travels to Poland and Israel for two weeks, similar to March of the Living. Over the course of this trip, I was fortunate enough to travel alongside some of my best friends, but also with Max Garcia. Max Garcia is an Auschwitz survivor that travelled with my Shalhevet group to tell us personal stories from World War II and the experiences he went through in various concentration camps. The opportunity to walk through ghettos, concentration camps, and thousand year old Jewish cemeteries alongside a living miracle was absolutely remarkable. Max spoke to us with no filter, giving every detail we wanted to know about the horrifying experiences he went through simply because he was a Jew. The trip, to say the least, changed my outlook on life and further cemented my thoughts on the necessity for a Jewish State.

Israel is a country that prides itself on having its arms wide open for Jews worldwide. Any Jewish person, regardless of how religiously affiliated they are, can feel at home once landing in Israel. The breathtaking architecture, delicious food, and immense diversity of people all come together to create a vibrant country, oozing with culture and tradition. After visiting Poland and seeing first hand the atrocities of the war that tried to wipe out the Jewish race, I understood the importance of Zionism. Without a Jewish country, millions of Jews would not have a single unifying place to call their own. Zionism should not only be a fight that Jewish people fight, but rather a worldwide issue. Each group of people desires a country to call home, and for Jews that place is, and always will be, Israel.

I am a proud Zionist because Israel is my home. Israel is the place that has never ceased to inspire, protect, and provide opportunities for me. After being blessed enough to travel through Poland and see how much the Jewish people have fought for a country to call their own, I will do my part and continue to support the fight. My friends, family, and fellow Israeli citizens have shown their support by enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Though enlisting may not be in my plans at the moment, by educating others about Zionism and the abundance of hope that Israel sets out to the world, I hope to make my own mark starting on campus at Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo. I have found a home in two countries, both of which have shown me that perseverance and fighting for what is right are of the utmost significance. For those who fought for Israel, for Max, for my family, for my friends, and for all the inhabitants of Israel– I will never falter in my support for a permanent Jewish state of Israel.