The choice to move across the world from a location of familiarity and comfort, where the vast majority of my life has been spent with people and places entirely known, into a somewhat uncertain and unknown setting with two hundred other people from twenty-five countries. As we communally learn a new language and encounter a new cultural expression together, we also experience the astounding diversity of our lives. The most interesting aspect of this experience is the manner in which we each come from entirely different backgrounds with variety of life experiences, but are unified by shared goals and common purpose. We each intend and aspire to build a life for ourselves and our future families as Israeli citizens and members of the state of Israel.  I’ve discovered when I’ve encounter those from other nations with the initial claim that we do not speak the same language, we somehow find a way to communicate through other means. We have a shared vision of where we want our lives to go and what we want to create in this country.

Each person has distinct and unique motivations for their decision. People from European countries, such as France, describe the anti-Semitism they have directly encountered from citizens of their countries, which compelled them to reconsider their choice of where to live. Others, such as Americans from Jewish centers such as New York City, have not necessarily made aliyah in an attempt to escape explicit or implicit discrimination. Rather, our choice is motivated by a desire to live freely in all senses of the word. That includes but is not limited to spiritual, social, cultural, religious, physical and metaphysical reasons. There is a sense of ease felt here as a Jewish person that may go beyond any logical or tangible explanation.

The halls of Beit Canada at Ulpan Etzion are filled with a wide variety of languages, ranging from Spanish, French, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, German, English and others. Each morning, we come together in intensive Hebrew class and tenaciously attempt to grasp a new language. After this experience, we will each go on to take different paths, whether the army, university or jobs in all different areas of the country. Ultimately, we are all Jews and have a desire to begin to create an integrated and successful life in Israel. Our interconnected paths and intertwining aspirations have created a binding unity amongst us as Jewish people who have made the choice to live in Israel.