Born To Be a Sabra
By Sabra Joines
Walking in the footsteps of the patriarchs has given me a deep sense of belonging, and has clarified for me, especially after years of reading the prophets, the true meaning of my first name.
The discovery became a strong confirmation of the mystery of my life's purpose and connection to the Land of Israel.
My given name, Sabra, describes a person born in Israel and is also the name of the desert plant. The cactus is compared to Israelis, tough on the outside, but sweet on the inside. It became that much more important to me to find out my commonality with the people of Israel.
With all of the harsh, existential problems Israel faces as a result of being located in a geographic neighborhood filled with hostility, I learned that my dream of supporting Israel in my own way actually pales in comparison to the resilience and tenacity of the people who inhabit the land of milk and honey.
I have now seen up close and personal what we don't read in the newspapers or see on television - namely the dramatic changes and challenges taking place every minute of everyday in Israeli life.
I have always felt a compelling need, if not a strong desire, to journey to where my strongest feelings lay, and that is Israel. I believe my mission in life is to help Israel in any way I can, and encourage others to do the same.
As I gazed at the hills of Judea and Samaria from several of my vantage points in Jerusalem, I instinctively knew that the entire Land of Israel was created, built and nurtured by the Creator as a blessing for His Covenant people.
Against multiple odds, the Jewish recipients of The Land have not forsaken their G-d-given home, but have sculpted it into one of the most advanced nations on earth despite the chaos and the contradictions.
Israel is not only a nation of beauty and spirituality; it is a vibrant representative democracy and a society that continues to bring modern-day miracles by using the Torah as a backdrop for guidance and inspiration.
The in-gathering of the exiles from throughout the nations has given Israel a mosaic of people and passions that allow her to forge ahead in virtually every area of endeavor. Entrepreneurship, medical science, technology, agriculture and some of the most unique innovations come from that tiny sliver of land a mere one-sixth the size of Alabama.
In the course of my journey, I was astounded by the number of Israelis, especially the youth, who spotted the bright crimson t-shirt I wore all over Israel with "Alabama" spelled out in Hebrew and splashed in white across the front.
They not only know about our beautiful state, but actually many of them sang "Sweet Home Alabama"-- in tune and even with the correct lyrics!