The first time, we met I was 5 years old; it was a quick visit and I was far too young to understand the greatness of what would become. I didn’t think much of it and left the magic behind. Just 11 years later, I discovered this love again, but this time, I was forever changed.
It wasn’t easy; we spent five months together, only to face separation once more as I felt pulled in another direction by family and friends.
Despite giving into the pressure to return to the comforts of the States, my life was never quite the same after that. From then on, I felt tied down in this “long-distance relationship,” characterized perfectly by Yehuda Halevi, when he wrote, “my heart is in the East; and I am at the edge of the West”. His constant yearning for the land of Israel is what I have felt for so long, a feeling that I have finally decided to act on.
This is the story of my Aliyah journey, which, sof sof, I have finally begun. It took me a long time to make this decision. There were lots of tears from family, the completion of a bachelor’s degree and a law degree, and so many trips back and forth that I had to stop counting. I’m not sure what was the catalyst to finally choosing to go home, but I can honestly say that I have never felt more at peace.
As I write this, I am sitting in Manhattan next to the fountain in Columbus Circle overlooking Central Park, listening to the birds and watching the sun set. Life is good here and there are certainly fewer security concerns than in Israel. Many people, including Israelis, ask me why I want to make Aliyah, especially in the wake of the recent wave of terror. “Life in Israel is not perfect and it’s hard,” they say.
Well, in a nutshell, my answer is that the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s easy to think that every day problems won’t exist somewhere else, but that’s not just how life works. You certainly don’t leave your family and move across the world for solutions to insignificant issues. Rather, you move across the world to seek fulfillment and happiness, to be a part of something phenomenal and to make a difference.
I choose to make Aliyah because I choose to be happy; because I choose to be a part of something special; because I choose to live in my homeland. I watched the news closely this week and waited anxiously with a heavy heart to hear words of comfort or sorrow from the leaders of the United States. But nothing. The same silence that Bibi spoke of in front of the General Assembly at the UN is the same silence that rings across this country today. And yesterday. And the day before that. And unfortunately, probably tomorrow too.
I choose to not be part of this silence.
We read the story of Bereishit this Shabbat, the story of creation and of new beginnings, and that is why I felt that it was time to share my new beginning, while also praying for a new, calm week filled with peace in Israel and all over the world.
I’ll be home soon.