It’s 8:00 in the morning and I’m already exhausted. Yes, this is actually the norm for me, but today I’m exhausted for an usual reason. The kids and I have spent the last hour or so dancing around the house, watching our Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah video called “My Soul” and then watching every other Nefesh B’Nefesh video available. This is, after all, our tradition on our Aliyahversary. And today we celebrate 6 years in Israel.
As the date has been approaching, I’ve been thinking about what our Aliyah has meant for us. What has struck me lately is how ordinary Aliyah feels most days. I work in an office that is filled with olim (immigrants). Every single person in the office has either made Aliyah himself as an adult, or been brought on Aliyah by parents. I live in a community where a large percentage of my friends have, as well, made Aliyah. And, of course, Josh’s everyday task is to help more people to come to Israel. It’s simply the collective norm.
Big deal, I think to myself at times, I’ve come just as all of these other people have…and it’s simply a given that we’ve all picked up our lives and carried on here. Not only that, but as we often hear from olim, or with Aliyah videos that we watch, is how easy it is to make Aliyah. The Jewish people thirsted to return to our homeland for over two thousand years. Now that we can so easily just jump on a plane and move here – how can we NOT take that opportunity?
But, whenever I step back for a minute, I’m truly amazed by what we’ve done. I marvel at the fact that we left everything in America. What exactly did we leave? Families who love and miss us; jobs that were challenging, rewarding, stable and interesting; friends who were part of a lovely Jewish community; two cars; a nice house and more. In addition, we left so many small items that people who live in America take for granted every day – we left a language we understood and news that we could watch, we left newspapers we could read and mail that we could open and readily comprehend! And the list goes on and on.
When we stepped off that plane six years ago, Josh and I had come to a country where we had no jobs, no family, no cars, very little knowledge of the language, and only about 4 friends. And yet, every moment since has felt exciting, invigorating and entirely right.
Some days, when I’m paying the car renewal bill at the post office and getting the car inspected, or when I’m enrolling my kids at school, or when I’m renewing a passport or other document, I am amazed by everything that I know how to do.
Moving, whether it’s to another city or across the world, involves a great deal of relearning. There is so much that you suddenly don’t know and so many bureaucratic processes that you don’t know how to approach. Multiply that by a thousand when you’re doing it in another language and with people from a completely different cultural mindset – and you have my life. And yet, everything gets done eventually.
Anyone who has made Aliyah knows that it is a process full of tears, expectations, fears, anticipation and trial and error. The hardest part of it all, as far as I’m concerned, was on the other end of the ocean. Saying goodbyes, packing for the unknown and relocating was extremely difficult and trying. Since then, it’s just been one long blog post of exploration and rediscovery. What a gift we’ve been given to reinvent ourselves professionally, to explore who we really are, to test our characters, and to raise children in the Jewish homeland.
And so today, I marvel at the life and community that we’ve built and the people that we’ve become on this amazing journey. If I do say so myself, today is a day to pat ourselves on the back, while thanking Hashem for giving us the incredible opportunity to be part of the Jewish present and future in our homeland.