My Aliya Journey Starts Now

Aliyah is not a new concept. Not by a long shot. Jews from all walks of life have been moving away from where they grew up to our homeland for centuries. Israel has this draw that has been bringing people to its shores for hundreds of years, and in only a matter of months, I will be joining them.

I have wanted to move to Israel for a pretty long time. Now that I am old enough to finally “make the move” on my own, I am dizzy with anticipation. Not to say that I am doing this on my own. Far from it. I have a wonderful family and an amazing support group that pretty much has every Shabbat meal for the next 3 years planned out for me.

However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. There’s paperwork, money, paperwork, logistics, paperwork, and more paperwork to worry about, as well as… more paperwork.

Of course, I have been getting a lot of feedback on my decision from my friends and family, but also from people who don’t know me well enough to know my reasons. The question people are asking me the most is “why”. Why am I, a young adult who could easily stay in America, leaving a comfortable life in the US to move to a country six thousand miles away, surrounded by enemies, where I will be drafted into the army?

The answer is pretty simple. I honestly feel like that’s what I should be doing in this stage of my life. Many of my peers are making decisions on what they would like to do in life around this time. No matter the path anybody chooses in life, there will be hardships. Life is like that. However, I am making my decision to face these hardships in Israel, where I belong, where I feel I should be.

Another big part of the reason why is the emotional component. For as long as I can remember, I have been hearing stories about terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Men, women, children, and even babies. When I heard about the Fogel family massacre in Itamar I was really angry. I made up my mind at that point to do what I could to prevent another such thing from happening. I decided I would make a difference to the best of my ability. That was what got me started on seriously considering joining Tzahal.

I feel like it’s my responsibility to my people to serve. Just because I wasn’t born in Israel does not mean I should be any different from the members of the tribe that were. Most teens are usually in “me me me mode” but I feel the need to break out of that. To make my contribution in whatever way I can. And if I have fun while I do it…. No complaints will be made, rest assured of that.

In only a matter of months I will be “becoming an adult”, which supposedly brings responsibility along with it.

Thankfully, being young and without many obligations, I am able to pretty much pick up and leave (paperwork notwithstanding), as opposed to many slightly older people who would love to make aliyah and join their brethren but cannot due to obligations such as family or their job.

There are many organizations out there devoted to helping people make aliyah. I am planning to make aliyah with the Garin Tzabar program, which is a program aimed at young adults looking to return to their homeland. The point of this program is to have a group of youngsters all make aliyah together, go to kibbutz together, and go through the army draft process together, so nobody feels alone. This weekend I will be meeting my group for the first time and learning more about the process.

I can only hope this works out for the best and I will hopefully be blogging again soon. Until then, shalom, and wish me luck on my modern day return to my homeland!



About the Author
Aryeh Dergel is 17 years old and currently lives in Spring Valley, NY. He will be making aliyah in august of 2013.