“If you will it, it is no dream” . Eight simple words dictated by Theodore Herzl. These eight words were trapped in my head on the morning of August 13, 2012. With my bags all packed and after all of my goodbyes, I knew that in just a few hours I would be on an El Al Nefesh B’Nefesh flight making aliyah. I had willed it my whole life, it was no longer a dream. Making aliyah with Garin Tzabar in order to serve in the Israel Defense Forces was now a reality.

After a short ceremony at John F. Kennedy International Airport, it was happening. I boarded the plane with my other Garin Tzabar friends along with families making aliyah from all over the United States and off we went. Israel, here we come.

We were a diverse body of people on the flight – religious, non-religious, teachers, chefs, doctors, former ICE agents, babies, future lone soldiers, and grandparents. As different as we were, we were the same. We all had one dream – to live in our homeland.

Upon arriving in Israel we were greeted with a massive celebration – ministers, the head of Nefesh B’Nefesh, the head of Tzofim, the head of Friends of the IDF, the chairman of El AL, and even the Prime Minister himself. After dancing, hugging family and friends, getting aliyah benefits from the Absoprtion Ministry (Misrad HaKlita), taking countless pictures for the Israeli press, and even doing an interview on national TV, it was time to really start the new adventure.

As soon as I left the airport, I felt the difference. I was no longer here for summer vacation. I was no longer here to visit family and friends. I was no longer here to volunteer as an outsider. I was now a member of Israeli society. I was now in my nation to do my part. For all of the pros and cons that exist within Israeli society, they were now mine .

Life was now about fulfilling a responsibility. I look back and think about the fact that for over 2,000 years Jews were unable to live as an independent people in our homeland. By coming to Israel to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, we are making a statement that we see it as our duty to live in and defend this land. It is a privilege to have this opportunity.

Click on the link and skip to 19:24 for my interview on Israeli News which highlights our aliyah: http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=918652