The decision to make aliyah is more than just going to Nefesh B’ Nefesh, filling out countless forms, packing up your belongings, boarding EL AL and arriving at Ben Gurion… Making aliyah is a major decision, one that can not be made on ‘one leg’. 

But, if truth be told, from our first visit with the shaliach until arriving home was only 5 months. We had decided that if we are going to make this life altering change then why wait, just do it.  Our only regret…was that we didn’t make this decision earlier.

This coming May, my husband, son and I [two daughters preceded us in making aliyah] will celebrate our chai anniversary of aliyah. Yes, eighteen wonderful years have passed since we came home!

We made aliyah through the Jewish Agency, long before NBN was ever around. Our shaliach, a retired navy commander, was truly marvelous.

He didn’t try to paint a rosy picture. He told us Israel is not Canada and that life for us would be very different and difficult.

Suffering from culture shock is very normal. Hebrew is a difficult language to learn and protectiza gets you what you need.

Our shaliach then asked us if we still wanted to proceed on making aliyah.

We asked him,“how soon can we start the paper work”?  For us, making aliyah was probably a little easier than for many people, as we had two married daughters and three grandchildren waiting to welcome us home.

Why do seemingly normal people, give up their jobs, homes and basically their way of life and move to a country on the other side of the ocean?

Let me tell you what I think. Israel is in the news everyday. We are just a small country surrounded by enemies who want to see our destruction. I fear for my country.

Our precious homeland has known many wars in our short 63 years of the modern state. Politics is the most popular discussion topic, every citizen and non citizen has an opinion.

Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and we must always be the majority. We have to increase our population by many and we have room for every Jew. Aliyah is the only answer.

During the past almost eighteen years, our lives have been enriched in many ways. We notice things that we never noticed before, even though they were in front of our face. We have an appreciation for rain. Every drop is a Bracha.

We appreciate beautiful flowers, fruit trees, and amazing birds. We appreciate the quiet. We went through a war and still have drones, circling helicopters surveying the ground looking for terrorists and air raid sirens to warn us of incoming Grad missiles to our yishuv and the surrounding moshavim.

We live in Ma’agalim, just outside of Netivot. To think that today we are living, walking and shopping on the same land where the Father of the Jewish people, Avraham Avinu lived, walked and shopped blows my mind.

The original old city of Netivot is 5 kms. from the present city. Today, the original Netivot is a nature park where families go to picnic, hike and just relax. My grandchildren love to go to the ‘forest’.

We don’t have any more money than we had in the ‘old country’, [we were always broke and made aliyah with less than $5,000], but here we always seem to have enough for what we need. We had two cars in the ‘old country’. We don’t have a car in Israel. We travel by bus or tremp [hitchhike] or just walk. We don’t own a home or go on fancy vacations. Our life is simple, day to day, just how we like it.

Making aliyah is a difficult decision. It affects every member of your family. Living in Israel is both an honor and a privilege. Yes, you may have to give up the so called ‘good life’, but I can tell you from personal experience, that even though life in Israel is a struggle the personal satisfaction you receive living on our precious land gives you a much better life.

Living in Israel as new olim is an experience in its self. We were warned that the bureaucracy would be unbelievable. It was, but we took it in stride. Our first experience with bureaucracy was at the Passport Control Office at the airport when we arrived.

Baruch Hashem, our aliyah has been very successful. If I may, I would like to leave you with a piece of advice. Mainly, learn to go with the flow. In other words, you live in Israel and in Israel we don’t do things the way it was done in your former country. But most of all have patience.  Israel works at a slower pace than most countries.

Wishing you B’ hatzlacha [good luck] and may your aliyah fulfill your every dream.