After traveling in London and Paris for the first time in my life, I returned to Israel with some new life experiences. You can read any of my blogs about our trip, like this one: http://voices-magazine.blogspot.com/2010/06/picture-postcard-london.html, or any others.
B"H, I love Israel and I thank G-d for our blessed life here. I love my town and my neighbors, my activities and my charity projects. I cherish the quality of the life we have attained here.
Okay, so where's the BUT??
Well, there's no but; there is a SIGH.
After seeing the magnificent buildings, and the finished gorgeous cities of Europe, I drove back from Ben Gurion airport, looked around in every direction, viewed the piles of rocks, the gravelly unpaved roads, the broken plastic barriers, all the temporary structures that should have been permanent LONG ago, the mess around me, and said, "Why can't anything here have a finished look?" "Why can't anything here be finished?????"
I kvetched to my friend, Esther.
I told her that I wished we had some nice architecture here, like in London. She said, "What are you talking about? What about the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv, the Belz
Synagogue in Jerusalem?" I brightened. "You're right. Those buildings are exquisite." Esther added, "Aren't you pleased that we have such magnificent synagogues here?" Yes, I am. A beautiful house of worship is a sanctification of G-d's name. Then I got to thinking about other synagogues in Israel that I felt were unique - the Churva in the Old City, the founding synagogue in Rishon LeZion, the Mikdash synagogue of Shiloh and more.
Esther set me straight. The Jewish people have been on the land of Israel for 3000 years. We once had palaces and Holy Temples. We had glorious structures once upon a time. Tragically, our beautiful structures have been destroyed throughout the millenia by our enemies.
Okay, so we started again in earnest about 100 years ago. We didn't have the funds then for colossal and adorned edifices. We were happy to put up four walls for our synagogues and public buildings. Yet, despite this, here and there, Jewish builders put their efforts into creating marvelous edifices. (And if you know of one that we should tell folks about, please forward me the locations!!)
Besides all that, Israel really is a work in progress. We keep building (I'm not talking about this freeze period - I'm talking about 100 years of building). We keep growing. We keep developing.
We might have rocks and caravans and unfinished surfaces around us, but we're a young-ancient nation. We're not finished. We're only starting.