The quest for home. It's a basic human need that doesn't always equate with a house and a street address. As we celebrate Israel's 64th birthday this week, it's worth reflecting on what the modern State of Israel has done to create a strong and vibrant home for so many Jews around the world.
Even for those of us who don't live there, Israel resonates in our hearts as our historical homeland, as the focal point of Jewish peoplehood, as a spiritual center and as a continuing source of wonder and pride.
We as a community have not done enough to ensure that message is passed down to our children and grandchildren. It is critical that we do so, stepping up programs that educate and inspire our youth. Nothing substitutes for time spent in the land. Bring your family. Encourage your teenagers to sign on to one of the many Israel travel experiences available. And we need to bolster communal support for young adult programs with a proven track record, like Birthright Israel and Masa.
Israel is far from a perfect society. It faces an array of challenges -- external security threats as well as internal social discord. Yet the fact that it ranked as the 14th "happiest nation" in the world in a recent U.N. survey tells you something powerful about the nature of Israeli society and the home that our brothers and sisters have created for themselves -- and for us.
Now that's something to celebrate.