Part memoir and part spiritual journey, Understanding Israel asks, “Who am I, and What does Israel mean to me?” But for most, my photos spark one burning question: "In what ways can we understand Israel today?" This book project includes 65 photographs designed to convey the paradoxes and contradictions of the Jewish state: a homeland for the Jewish people, and yet an occupier of contested territory. The book shares my personal story, my quest, my grief and my wonder, but is most of all a plea for peace. Simultaneously, I raise global issues of grave importance. Prompted by the not unexpected yet untimely death of my parents, I joined a group of Jews en route to the "holy land." I was on a quest, and the quest led me to question everything. My parents had visited Israel, and they had a deep and abiding love for the place and the Jewish people. I felt as if this trip was for them; I would carry their spirit to our Jewish homeland. If possible, I would plant a tree. Our tour had a Zionist flavor: we visited settlements, kibbutzim, and memorials; we talked with analysts, government officials, and visionaries; we learned about agriculture, idealism, and sacrifice. We saw soldiers stage a battle; we saw Jerusalem's Western Wall. We walked; we prayed; we saw birds fly through the Syria-African rift. And we ate the fruits of a reclaimed Negev desert. We were sated and full. We were welcomed. So many challenges; so many conflicts. So much progress; so much pain. I was moved by many poignant stories. I was moved by the people I met. I did plant a tree for my parents. And I did learn so much on the way. The spirit of Israel has touched me, and these photographs are my witness.