By: Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

As I stand on the foot of the rugged mountains and let my gaze climb the rocky hills I think about how much this land means to me.

I have travelled the world, climbed the alps of Switzerland, ridden on the Skyline Drive in Virginia, and touched the stalagmites in its caverns.

My love for nature has been fostered since childhood. I was practically born in a forest. Two ancient beech trees graced my parent's garden in Denmark. We used to climb the fence which separated our backyard and the forest. At springtime we delighted in the blanket of pure white anemones which covered the ground.

When I stand here looking at the Judean hills, I must admit that others may not notice anything spectacular about the scenery which I face.

It's grass is not as green as the Danish forests, its mountains are not as marvelous as the Swiss Alps.

Yet, there is something else about this land which keeps me spellbound. The blueness of the sky invokes a sincerity which I have never felt before. The heavenly glow of the light is something which I have never seen in any other place.

As sunset is approaching this light draws me outside -outside of the shell of my house, and almost outside of my self.

As I gaze at the reflection of the bright light on the golden mountain cliffs, my whole being becomes one with the radiant atmosphere.

This is the land of our Fathers and Mothers. Here, Avraham bought the holy soil as an abode for the souls of those selected to carry on his mission.

Close by, Sarah's tent was revived with the candlelight lasting from Shabbath to Shabbath, the blessing of the Challah, and the cloud of glory as Rivkah carried on her spiritual genetics.

Not far from my view, Yaacov had his prophetic dream. When the last angel had climbed the ladder of heaven he exclaimed: "Surely the Eternal is in this place; and I knew it not." Now we know, because he has taught us how fearful this place is, it being the house of G-d and the gate of heaven.

Here Rachel's soul bitterly weeps for her children in exile. But "there is hope for your future says the L-rd, and your children shall come back again to their own border."

Yes, we have come back O Rachel, to the fields where you herded your flock, to the well where you kissed your beloved. To bring comfort to the ancient rocks of your tomb, to confide in you -our ageless mother. We pour out our pain mingled with hope as we kiss the soft velvet draping of your spirit.

Yes, we have returned to these barren hills who were yearning to yield their crops to Your children. This is the time to plant and the time to build up. The vineyards of the Judean mountains are bursting with ripe juicy grapes longing to be gobbled up by freckled golden haired children leisurely dangling their sunburned legs over the rosemary hedge.

These are the mountains which Moshe could see only from afar. His eyes straining to take in the entire view as he bemoaned: "I should not come unto that good land which the Eternal thy G-d gives you for an inheritance.... but you shall pass over, and possess that good land."

We are passing over and possessing the good land as we walk its length and breadth.

How the greatest among us throughout our past would have given, and gave their entire life in order just to kiss this holy soil once. They have rendered their blood to enable us to embrace the sacred ground with our eager steps.As I look at the sun setting over the sea-like ridges of the Judean hills I feel as if the Bible is opening up to me, and I walk right on its pages.