We hiked through the most insane surroundings, stopping at waterfalls and lookouts, where you could seriously feel the splendor. I don’t know if I could actually say it was a hike, maybe a stroll is a more appropriate word, but regardless of its assigned title, as I looked into the borders of Lebanon and breathed in the Israeli air, there was this sense of bliss and pride that is almost indescribable, but more needs to be seen and felt to be understood. We continued our day in the Chulah Valley (Emek Hachulah), riding bikes and birding, which entails watching the thousands of birds that migrate over Israel every six months.

We stopped at a point on the tracks and walked up to a little observatory where I was left completely shocked. What seemed like hundreds of thousands of birds were covering a huge field, flying around, swimming in the water and making a resounding amount of noise. We learnt that Israel along with a little village in Panama, South America, were the only two places where such a siting occurred. After looking around and taking in what lay in front of me, something clicked, even though these birds may just be birds they fly all over the world and have chosen Israel as their stop off, surely this is no coincidence, for while we too may fly and settle all over the world, it is Israel to which we always return.

As we were riding our bikes, the birds danced, the sun set and the sky became a painting filled with delicate strokes of orange and purple. Whilst it seems like such a cliché, Israel really does provide this amazing sense of self and belonging, it is a place where even though I have only been here for seven days I feel so accepted, so safe, so comfortable.

There is no doubt that Israel encounters some serious challenges, but the contrast of our time in the Chulah Valley assures that there is this shining light always looking over us, sending us small signs to remind us that we are meant to be here. Today encapsulates the uniqueness of Israel and the Jewish people. Despite a difference in opinions or experiences, Israel is land that seems to effortlessly bridge the realm of contrast. Whilst close to her enemies, Israel emanates strength, whilst threatened frequently, life is coloured by a unique zest and whilst the people of the land may appear completely different, we are in fact fundamentally the same, united by the dream and knowledge that no matter what, Israel is our home.