By Consul General Gilad Katz
Bittersweet — that is the feeling I am overcome with, while I write this farewell piece, as my tenure as consul general of Israel to the Southwest comes to a close.
I am filled with sweet emotions, because of all the people, places, activities, memories and work that I have had the pleasure of experiencing during these last four years. My family and I landed in Houston on Aug. 7, 2017. This was our first time here and we didn’t know anyone. For me and my family, this felt like a completely new world. Fast-forward four years and we truly feel as though this is our second home. We have true and close friends and had the great pleasure of getting to experience firsthand the various cultures and communities that make up the Southwest. Today, my family and I see ourselves as proud Texans. The main reason we feel that this is so, is because of the people, the warmth, the hospitality and welcome, the true concern and the genuine love we have received from so many of you. All of these experiences leave us with endless fond memories and incredibly full hearts.
With the sweet emotions also come bitter feelings, as my term comes to an end and it is time for us to return home. We will truly miss this incredible community and family that we must leave behind. The distance will make it seem difficult for us to remain connected on a daily basis; however, even though we will be far away, we will still be here with you, in spirit. We will cherish the memories we made here and reminisce often on the incredible experiences and friendships that impacted me and my family for the last 1,460 days. The departure will be challenging, but I believe that we shall all experience in our lives the blessing of King David in Psalm 84, 8: “They go from strength to strength.”
I would like to conclude with one final thought: If I were asked what I would want my final words as consul general of Israel to the Southwest to be, allow me to say that I pray people will remember me as a proud Israeli Jew, who tried to represent Israel the best that he could. Remember me as one who strived to advocate with the greatest of my ability for the Jewish state. Think of me as the official representative of Israel who was, is and will forever fight for the Jewish people. If I were to sum up these four wonderful, life-changing years into two sentences, I would say this:
I tried with all of my heart and soul to assist the state of Israel as best as I possibly could. It was an honor and privilege for me, and I know that the best is yet to come.
Shalom ve-l’hitraot — goodbye and we shall meet again.
Gilad Katz is consul general of Israel to the Southwest.