God tells Abraham, "Go forth from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you," (Genesis, 12:1). I was inspired to take the same journey and move to Israel. From the Negev desert to the mountains of the Golan Heights and everywhere in between, Israel is the most beautiful place in the world. And the strength of the Jewish people in their homeland is tremendously inspiring.

I wanted to be part of this unfolding drama of the Jewish people returning to their homeland and do my part in writing the next chapter of our people’s incredible odyssey.

While it had been a lifelong dream to move to Israel with my family, most people who heard about my plans had this reaction: “Are you completely out of your mind?!”

As a clinical psychiatrist, I felt comfortable answering them with expert testimony that I wasn’t exhibiting signs or symptoms of insanity. I was just doing what Jews for the past 2000 years have dreamed of doing: I was going home to the land of our Forefathers.

Some brave friends (thank you Rabbi Chananel) and family (you’re the best Gramma ever!) supported us, but most people were skeptical and followed up their first question with one of the following three subsequent ones:

  1. Don’t you know it’s dangerous in Israel?

  2. Don’t you know that Israeli culture is different from American culture?

  3. Don’t you know it’s very hard to make the transition to Israel?

Each of these deserves an entire article on its own, but here are my short answers.

Don’t you know it’s dangerous in Israel? The answer to this is easy. Don’t you know that the world is a very dangerous place these days? Whether it’s the terror attacks in France, Germany, America, Turkey, or any of the other nations plagued by Islamic extremism, things are very different than they were 30 years ago when Israel was the lone nation constantly under threat from terrorism.

I will never forget my experience working in the emergency room in Boston at a major city hospital on April 15th 2013. It was a peaceful Monday afternoon until dozens of victims from the Boston Marathon bombing came in covered in blood and the entire city was immediately shut down in the face of terrorism. So when people ask me if Israel is dangerous, I ask them if they know that Boston is also dangerous. And then I ask them to consider whether they truly believe that any country on Earth is better equipped and more dedicated to defending its citizens from terrorism than the state of Israel?

Don’t you know that Israeli culture is different from American culture? This one is also easy. Are most people really happy with the direction that the Western world is heading? With levels of personal satisfaction declining in Europe and North America, heading to a place where life is a bit more simple and family-oriented is a breath of fresh air.

On my morning commute last week, I watched as a young mother brought her three young children onto the bus. Besides the people who made room for the children to sit together, the driver himself held her infant daughter and sang nursery rhymes while the mother folded up her stroller and secured it for travel. Could something like this possibly happen in Chicago where more than 500 homicides have rocked the city over this past year? The feeling of community and the sense of being one big family is absolutely priceless and 100% palpable in Israel.

Don’t you know it’s very hard to make the transition to Israel? Now this one is a bit more complicated. Transitions are interesting for everyone and mastering a new language is never easy. I often describe the immigrant experience as a mix between going camping (e.g. you don’t have any of your stuff or the creature comforts that you’re used to) and waiting at the DMV (e.g. there is no sense of time, structure, or efficiency). On a personal level, I was forced to stop asking why the Ministry of Health isn’t involved in obtaining health insurance, why the Ministry of Transportation isn’t the first place to get your driver’s license, and what the Interior Ministry does in general because that might have made me completely nuts. Thank God on most days my biggest problem is struggling to find out where to buy high quality trash bags that don’t rip on your way to the dumpster and other similar struggles.

So perhaps the most important rhetorical questions for anyone who asked me if I was crazy for moving to Israel are: What is the price of never getting up the guts to follow one’s lifelong dream of living in the Holy Land? What is the risk of being honest with one’s self that for many, the creature comforts of America are more important than the merits of living in the Land of Israel? What is the cost of another generation living in Exile?

And for everyone who doubted whether or not it was worth it, know that there is nothing to inspire personal growth like waking up each morning as a Jew in the Land of the Jewish People. And furthermore if this photo of the sunrise from my backyard isn’t enough to prove it, have someone take your pulse…