Aliyah: Behind The Scenes Part 1

Publicists say it’s a Good Thing when people follow your every move.  So when Hubby and I decided to “make aliyah,” I knew that this move would capture the attention of a great many people.

Shortly after we made the decision, I thought of a reality documentary series that would record every phase of our aliyah experience.  I was shocked that no one had done this yet. From that moment on, I was writing and directing videos in my head.

Our saga of uprooting a family with five young kids and moving them from a New York suburb to Ramat Beit Shemesh this past summer turned into a series of short web episodes, and the first is just below. I’ll intersperse other videos as my story continues. Though they are only capsules of what we experienced, they convey the process, the emotions and those crazy unexpected moments.

They say aliyah is “uplifting.” I think that’s because “the lift” is your first contact with the reality that you’re actually moving to Israel.  A bunch of burly guys show up at your door, and you calmly, sanely point out what items you’ve selected to go abroad with you. The lift will travel the high seas and arrive at your new home with every little picture frame intact.

In your dreams.  In truth, the arrival of the lift is preceded by a frantic sorting of all your worldly goods, heartbreaking decisions, and repeated measuring and re-measuring of your sofa that suddenly looks too massive for an Israeli apartment. When the lift finally comes, you’re exhausted, you don’t even feel anymore.  You’re in divide and conquer mode – get this house packed: at a certain point, total fatigue starts to feel normal.

By 2:00 AM, the lift was gone, and neither Hubby nor I could articulate the gravity of the moment or the fear running through our heads. Who were those guys? Will we ever see our stuff again? They told us that everything will be delivered in 6-8 weeks.  And we believed them.

The difficulty of leaving “behind” the people we love was more than we bargained for.  So what do you do when you’re about to take off for Never-Never Land, not knowing when you’ll see your dearest friends and relatives again? Throw a BBQ.

Talk about intense. The day before the flight, fueled by bursts of adrenaline, I ran around doing last minute shopping, trying not to think about the huge ramifications of our move. But at the most random moments, I’d start to cry. Checking out at Target.  Buying pizza. Fingering our passports for the 600th time.

At the airport, we said the goodbyes we had been avoiding.  I’m clinging to my mother, she’s clinging to me, my six-year-old bursts in to tears, and someone is yelling that it’s time to board. I can’t believe this, I tell myself, I can’t believe I am doing this.

This Nefesh B’Nefesh flight was exclusively for olim, people that had made the conscious decision to move “home” – with our kids, with bikes and teddy bears, with English-Hebrew apps.  A bizarre excitement and energy permeated the air. We were young, old, single, married, religious, non-religious, and we bonded as family.

The instant we landed, Hubby and I couldn’t speak. We just hugged our kids a little tighter and our eyes said, “We did it.”  We felt as though we had fallen into the arms of generations of Jews who had made their home here in ancient times and by the millions of Jews who now drive the byways of Israel like they’re in Bumper Cars, screaming at each other with juicy epithets.

Come back on Wednesday to watch us get settled in our new home.

About the Author
Jamie Geller is the only best-selling cookbook author who wants to get you out of the kitchen – not because she doesn’t love food – but because she has tons to do. As “The Bride Who Knew Nothing” Jamie found her niche specializing in fast, fresh, family recipes. Now the "Queen of Kosher" (CBS) and the "Jewish Rachael Ray" (New York Times), she's the creative force behind and "JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller" magazine. Jamie and her hubby live in Israel with their six super kids who give her plenty of reasons to get out of the kitchen - quickly. Check out her new book, JOY of KOSHER Fast, Fresh Family Recipes.