“So you are going to move to a war zone? And you plan on living in the hardest hit area of that war zone?”
In the summer of 2001 I was sitting in my parents’ kitchen, telling them about my plans to make Aliyah and move to Jerusalem. The Palestinians’ Second Intifada had already been raging for nearly a year and my mother was not impressed by my plans.
To be clear, there were many reasons I wanted to make Israel my permanent home. I am a Zionist that deeply identifies with the historical mission of Israel. As an observant Jew, I love living in rhythm with the Jewish calendar in the Holy Land. And the winter is certainly easier than it was in Boston.
But part of my Aliyah motivation stemmed from the vicious wave of Palestinian terror attacks that I became obsessed with watching on the news. “You think you’ll drive the Jews out with terror? Then ‘davka‘ I’m going to move to Israel!”
It was a very Israeli response before I was even officially Israeli. So a month shy of my 25th birthday I packed up two suitcases and moved to Israel, a country where I had no family and no clear career path.
It wasn’t all roses. There were two massive bombings on Azza st., where I lived in Jerusalem. Eleven Israelis were killed at Moment Cafe in 2002. And then in 2004 a bus bombing on the street killed 11 and wounded over 50.
I ran outside and was one of the first to arrive following the bus bombing. I witnessed a horrifying scene that I will never forget.
But there have also of course been countless beautiful memories in Israel. Even during the darkest days of the Second Intifada, I kept moving forward and remembered to smile as much as possible.
Nearly 15 years later, I’ve built a family here in the Holy Land. I’m married to a wonderful Israeli and we have three great children. We bought a place in Modi’in and I’ve been blessed to find work in the high-tech industry. I love Israel and wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.
The life I’m living in Israel is my answer to the Second Intifada. The terrorists thought the Jews would run and some of us did…straight to Israel.
Some of you are watching the current wave of violence (which thankfully isn’t on the same scale as the massive bombings during the Second Intifada) from overseas and asking yourself, “How can I possibly help?”
I can tell you from personal experience that Aliyah is an excellent response…