I have just returned from a long weekend in Israel. It was rather a long journey for such a short time but it is what it is. My time there was wonderful. I immersed myself in family, in religion, in culture, in language, in food – I bathed in the joy of breathing my country’s air.
Any time a chutznik (diaspora) member of the family comes to Israel, they are always asked “Why don’t you make Aliyah?” Honestly, when you are sitting around the table with your Israeli family members your reasons seem to feel flimsy, paper-thin. You crave this constant feeling of togetherness with your Israeli brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, family members and friends. Your mind tells you that it IS easy, that making Aliyah is the solution to everything. You start to feel that YOU are the only reason that the family is not together. The Aliyah proselytizing continues with everyone you meet in Israel. Honestly, the majority of people I spend time with when I go are Olim, they have all made that decision to live in Israel. I am not sure if Sabras would be as quick to push Aliyah. But the question I always hear is “What’s stopping you? Come already!”
It isn’t that simple. In the hard light of day making Aliyah when your children are teenagers and settled in school, when you have a job you love, when there are custody agreements in place – it is not easy. Some of the reasons are good ones, some are excuses, but at the end of the day Aliyah has to make sense in every way. Yes, I should’ve made Aliyah at 18 like my son is. I didn’t, and life became complicated.
I have several friends who have made Aliyah full of excitement, feeling that they have weighed up the pros and the cons, and it is the right answer for them. Within a year or two they were back here, having met with all kinds of issues they could not possibly foresee, their hopes and dreams dashed into a myriad of pieces at their feet.
WHEN we make aliyah, it will be for good. When we finally join the children there (because, let’s face it, as things stand now they will all probably make Aliyah before us) it will be permanent. My heart yearns to be there. As that flight landed last week in Ben Gurion airport the tears flowed, and a sense of peace that I don’t feel anywhere else descended upon me. I want to be in Israel so much that it hurts. But I need to be here in the US right now. I need to make my peace with that.