Such a Tiny Country

The Fellowship  |  July 27, 2022

Aerial view of the city of Jerusalem.

Miriam Lock, a staff member in The Fellowship’s Jerusalem office, shares her reflections on Israel and how it may be small, but it is a strong and diverse nation.

I have often heard people say, “Israel is the size of New Jersey.”

I’m always interested in the comparison, because, before making aliyah (immigrating to Israel), I lived in New Jersey. I remember we were a short drive from New York. In New Jersey, you are not very far from New York, Pennsylvania, or Delaware. New Jersey is a little slip of a state, especially when you compare it to Texas or California.

Israel may be about the size of New Jersey, but that is where the similarity ends. Israel is not one of 50 states that make up one nation. Israel may be called the “state of Israel,” but it is one country, nation, and geographic entity that is small in size, but large in spirit.

Israel has a wide range of topography for one little slice of land. If you traveled from the north to the south, you’d encounter mountains, valleys, forests, deserts, cities, small villages, lakes, rivers, and even the lowest spot on earth — we have it all. Furthermore, Israel is home to many diverse populations who come from different cultures, believe in different religions, and speak different languages. Israel is a colorful kaleidoscope of humanity that tells the story of the past, but is always moving toward the future.

Last week my daughter took my old globe down from the shelf to show my five-year-old granddaughter. We brought this globe with us when we came to Israel in 1983, so it is at least 40 years old. The Soviet Union had not yet dissolved, and Yugoslavia was still one country, although that did not seem to bother my granddaughter. I pointed out Israel to her on the globe, so tiny it could easily be missed. The contrast between little Israel and all the giant Arab countries that surround it jumped out at me from the globe, and I was reminded once again how small Israel really is.

I thought about this in June when I drove with a few of my colleagues to Sderot, which is a city on the border with Gaza. It took just an hour and a half to get there from Jerusalem. And I thought about it again recently during our family retreat in Kfar Blum, which is a few hours to the north. I had not been in the Upper Galilee in years, certainly not since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and I had forgotten that it is so close. We have people working in the Jerusalem office who make this three hour commute to the office a couple of times a week.

Some of my colleagues flew to Chicago last week for our organization’s “Global Content Summit in Chicago,” where staff were able to come together as a global organization and discuss ideas, and when I saw a picture of them set against the beautiful scenery of Chicago, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and affection for the city of my childhood. I hope to visit sometime in the next year.

On the other hand, every time I stand in my garden and look out at the Judean hills rolling in the distance behind my house, I feel the love that has made me choose Israel as my home. Israel may be small and appears vulnerable to people who have never been here or know little about it. The truth is that the people and the land of Israel has the strength of countries many times its size. Our challenge is to continue to develop not only the strength of our armed forces and our economy, but also our spiritual and social strength, which means to work together so that everyone in our diverse population thrives.

The work of The Fellowship is making a major contribution towards facing this challenge and making life better and safer for all the people in Israel, and that is why I am honored to play my small part in such a significant effort.

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