Yesterday was a day of such highs and lows – with the emotional metronome switching back and forth between the two.
We said good bye to my oldest son, my Aryeh, as he and 124 other young people like him made Aliyah, with the intention of joining the IDF. His Nefesh b’Nefesh charter flight was full of others making Aliyah. The soldiers, the families, the singles, the retirees – all together over 300 people changed their lives for the better yesterday.
We were up at the crack of dawn yesterday to get ourselves to JFK. My son was so excited that he was practically vibrating with joy. Arriving at Terminal 4 and seeing all the other youngsters waiting in line – well, that kicked it up several notches for him. I exchanged several understanding looks with the other moms there.
There was a farewell ceremony which featured short speeches by all the important folk, and ended with all of those assembled singing Hatikvah. I was fine until that moment. Singing Israel’s national anthem undid me. I peeked at my son – his tears were flowing too. His dream was becoming a reality.
Before I relinquished him to his friends and the flight into his future I blessed him as I do most Friday nights. I said out loud the bracha of Shehechyanu – thank you God for bringing us to this moment. There, in the swirling maelstrom of hundreds of people saying goodbye, I reminded my son how very much he is loved, and how very proud we are of him.
The pride in my heart waged war with the sadness of goodbyes. My first son to leave home. My eldest. Surrounded by loved ones who came to wish him well – his brothers, his step-father, his great-aunt, and both of his parents – he took this big step. He hugged us all and waved goodbye. One of the next pictures I had of him was him landing in Israel with the biggest smile on his face that I have ever seen. His joy is my joy.
Being a blogger and a social media person, I have blogged and Facebooked this whole process, from the opening of his Aliyah file, to him landing at Ben Gurion. I have tweeted and updated and shared this whole journey with the world (with my son’s blessing).
Many people have reached out to me saying they never considered how it felt for their parents when they made Aliyah and left them behind. They felt that sharing in my joy (and sadness) and my real-time updates gave them a better perspective. They appreciated how supportive we have all been of our son – not stopping him, not giving him guilt, just encouraging him and helping him. In my mind there was no choice. He knew five years ago when he first stood at the Kotel at the age of 13 that he needed to come home. As he said yesterday in a radio interview – he felt that God had tapped him on the shoulder. In his mind this was his only option.
His younger brothers will follow. It’s all they talk about. He has paved the way for them – shown them it can be done, and with the right kind of help and support they can make Aliyah too.
In the fullness of time I will watch online as each of them walks through that wall of love that greets Olim when they arrive in Israel. Please God one day I will take that walk too.
Mazel tov to all the olim, and to my Aryeh I say “Stay strong, Chazak kmo Aryeh”.