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The Land of Hope and Dreams

The Land of Hope and Dreams

After September 11th, I decided to become an American citizen. Here's why.


After September 11th, President Bush spoke of the war against evil, my daughter stood in line for two hours to buy a flag and I filled out my papers to become an American citizen. While I didn’t have to escape in a small boat through shark-infested waters to get here, it was still a big decision.

Canada is my country of birth; Israel is the land of my heart and my people. Why was I becoming an American citizen? And why now?

I’ve lived here for 19 years. I thought that I wouldn’t mind if I was an American. I would like to vote. But it just wasn’t worth the hassle -- the forms, the photos, the $250!

America shared a crucial experience with Israel -- being attacked for your values and for your very existence.

But something changed after 9/11. I had always appreciated the United States as a moral force in the world -- but not enough that I was actually going to do something about it. Then America shared a crucial experience with Israel -- being attacked for your values and principles, in fact for your very existence. We were allies in the deepest sense.

If I couldn’t be in Israel (and alas I couldn’t for personal and professional reasons), I could still fight the good fight. So I found myself, about two months ago, standing in the L.A. Sports Arena, with 3700 others (we were the second group of that size that day), affirming my commitment to this country and appreciating this country’s commitment to me.

There were 120 countries represented on that day in April -- many fleeing lives of persecution and poverty for the dream of America. For the hope and opportunity. Sometimes if your life has been easy and comfortable, it’s hard to fathom what that really means, what this country does for others.

The United States isn’t perfect. Far from it. No country is. But there is a power to a country founded on freedom, particularly on freedom from religious persecution. There is an acceptance and tolerance that have benefited the Jewish people.

America has been a blessed land, perhaps, as Dennis Prager suggested on his radio show, due to the fulfillment of the Almighty’s commitment to Avraham, "Those who bless you will be blessed." (As we see this promise come to fruition, we are reminded that God will keep the other half and "those that curse you will be cursed.")

We are privileged and grateful to be here. Sometimes it takes a cataclysmic event like 9/11 to focus us on what we have, to appreciate the gift -- in the personal and the larger sense.

Who knew how much love and compassion there was to share?

It was an opportunity to see the full power and strength of a strong ethical nation in action, globally and domestically, battling evil on the world stage and unparalleled acts of kindness at home. Who knew what we had? Who knew how much pain there was to feel? Who knew how much love and compassion there was to share?

For me, now an American citizen, this is going to be a different July 4th. And for the country, still struggling with the aftermath of September 11th, trying to cope with ongoing terrorist threats, striving to fulfill its promise to itself, to its citizens and to the world, July 4th isn't going to be the same.

There are heavy battles yet to be fought and complicated decisions to be made. The government keeps warning us there’s a long road ahead. With the Almighty’s help, we know that good will triumph. I’m glad I’ve joined the troops.

So fire up the barbecue, light up the skies and "God bless the U.S.A." (Everybody sing!)

June 29, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 14

(14) Carlie gal, September 9, 2011 7:14 PM

Bless you and thank you for your story

It is such a blessing for us to hear your story, Emuna, and welcome to the U.S. as an OFFICIAL citizen! It's unfortunate that so many natural-borns really don't "get" the privilege and freedom and foundation we have. I'll never embrace or condone anything we've done amiss- evidence of the fallen condition of mankind, but the good spirit of America - the incomparable giving (without recognition) and altruism in willingly fighting for those outside even outside our nation speaks volumes. It humbles and motivates me like almost nothing else to want to do the same and have my family follow suit.

(13) S Ziskind, July 8, 2002 12:00 AM

Going to Israel is the only Aliyah a Jew can make


I live in Brooklyn but had the zechus to study for a year in Tsfas, Israel.

Someone made a comment that after Chuf-Gimmel Elul (otherwise known as 9/11) he could understand why Rebbetzin Braverman could make such a decision.

My first thoughts after this horrific event was how I wished to be home in Eretz Yisroel. If someone's going to be attacking both places why not at least go to a holy place; the home of all yidden?

Because my family is here and hashgacha pratis has led me here I suppose I have work to do chutz l'aretz. I'm a Lubavitcher and until Moshiach comes (who should come NOW!) there's still work to be done outside of Israel, making the chutz l'aretz into an Israel but obviously this entails remembering that there is an Israel and that that's our home. Becoming a "rah rah" patriot for U.S. sort of misses the point. Jews in the U.S. are Jews who happen to live in the U.S. We shouldn't turn ourselves into Jewish Americans and make what should be the ikar (primary importance) into something tuful (secondary)

(12) Boris Jovanovich, July 8, 2002 12:00 AM

Dear friend

We can live in any part of world,practice Judaism.But do not be blinded by its shine.Just remember Daniel, when he was in Babylon.

(11) Aaron Fox, July 7, 2002 12:00 AM

America, land of Ricki Lake and Howard Stern

There is not one good reason not to move to Israel. Not even one. How do you like that?

I hope you enjoyed your bar-b-que.

(10) Carol Stacey, July 5, 2002 12:00 AM

Welcome to a new aand valued USA citizen

It sounds we as a nation are fortunate to have you join us as a citizen. Welcome and Shalom.

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