Eighteen years ago, my husband and I made aliyah. I was seven months pregnant with our long awaited first child. Moving to Israel and raising a family there was fulfilling a dream created as I became religious. Aliya completed the picture I painted in my mind of how a Jew should live.
Two and a half months later, as the sun rose on yet another beautiful Jerusalem morning, I was in labor at the hospital. As day dawned anew, I was overcome with fulfilling my dream, a baby, an Israeli one at that, in our homeland. Life felt perfect.
But life is complicated and circumstances lead us back to galut and our American families. We moved around chasing parnassah and our bechor certainly suffered the brunt of those moves. We half joked that this was the result of his bar mitzva parsha being lech l’cha – an ever lasting command to go some where new. Inside it pained me. A person needs to know their home.
In less than one week, the sun will rise in Israel as my bechor lands at Ben Gurion, early in the morning, in advance of his year in yeshiva. There are so many dreams I have wrapped up in this trip for him. I want him to renew his love of learning. To mature as he navigates the country himself and manages his life. To find life long friends. And I want him to fall in love with the land of his birth, truly his birth right.
I know that our children are only ours in that they were born to us. We can not program their passion or dreams. So in my heart I will send him off with a modification of the opening of his bar mitzva parsha. Lech l’cha- go for yourself, l’artzecha – to your land , l’moladecha- to your birth place, mibeit avicha – from your father’s house, el haartez asher areka- to the land that I (Hashem) will show you.
Of course as a mom, I will not share this with him. My dreams are for me. I will kiss him and hug him tightly and try not to cry too much. After all, I am not sending him away, I am sending him home.