I step off the plane and I take a breath like I haven’t taken for so many weeks. It is deep, it is relaxed, and it fills my lungs with air. I have not been able to inhale fully for many weeks now and my lungs have felt constricted with a constant ache but I didn’t realize it until I arrived in New York yesterday.
My 19-year-old daughter asked me recently, how does someone live with constant fear? Do you get used to it? Does it dissipate? Does it become the new normal? I am a mom with many answers, but I am rendered mute. Because I don’t know. I don’t know how to live under the threat of daily terror attacks and I guess my lungs have been suffering….
It has been less than 3 months since our flag-waving, tarmac-kissing, joyous arrival to Israel and I am back in New York for a week long visit for my work. And it feels strange. It feels strange walking the streets without wondering if there are menacing attackers waiting to pounce and stab me.
My 14 year old anxiously texts me, “How is NY? Do you like Israel better?” and I think she’s scared of what my response will be. G-d, it is so nice to understand everything going on around me, what everyone is saying, seeing the comfortable and familiar….being able to breathe. I text back quickly, “Yes. Israel is better.” She is relieved…..and I am not lying.
Making Aliyah is a deeply personal decision and I am not one to proselytize, lecture or finger wave. I am also not one to romanticize the decision.
So here is honest.
Being in Israel feels right. Despite the fear, uncertainty and challenges, it’s our home. And there is no other place I’d rather be than in my home. I don’t think I knew what feeling at home actually felt like until we made Aliyah.
We matter more here. We matter in a way that we have never mattered before.
It took our family 22 years and 7 daughters to make our Aliyah decision and despite the current challenges, it feels absolutely right, down to my aching lungs.