Tropical storm Arthur battered Cape Cod delaying fireworks and cancelling the small town parade that usually graces the streets along the bay. This is most likely my last, 4th of July in the states and might have caused me angst if I had not been so distracted by events in Israel, my future home. Yes, it will be a change from this wonderful community that has little serious crime and has less than three thousand residents. And I will miss many of the people and a couple of dear friends. But, no, recent events have not changed my mind. The reality of violence in the world is not limited to Israel’s dangerous neighborhood. That people harm each other for various reasons is part of human history and will not change. Ever.
But many living in the United States or Canada or Britain, might be skittish about the intensity of life in Israel these past weeks. And it might trigger a question for future olim: to go or not to go, even if they are far along in the process. On July 1st, an email was sent out from Nefesh B’Nefesh to those of us who will be making aliyah soon. Signed by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass (founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh), his words struck a chord with me and I hope they did with others. Recently with all the turmoil, I have been asked if I will still be going and why. Maybe I stumbled over the words in an effort to make sense, but the Rabbi’s letter came to my rescue. From Rabbi Fass’ email:
“This morning I received an email from an individual who is scheduled to make Aliyah in the coming weeks. In response to the news, they voiced their concerns about safety and were actually having second thoughts about their Aliyah plans. Although I try to be sensitive in my correspondences, I could barely contain myself. This is precisely the time to come home, I wrote. We must show our brothers and sisters in Israel that we literally (not just figuratively) stand with them; and it is imperative that we declare to our enemies that nothing – nothing – will deter us from returning to our homeland and fulfil the destiny and fate of the Jewish people.
Our generation has been blessed with the miracle of the creation of the State of Israel. For two thousand years, we have longed, prayed and dreamt for this moment. But we live in a constant struggle over our existence in this land. We have shed many tears and we have sacrificed greatly. But we will, with God’s help, continue to build our Holy Land, to raise our families here, to educate our children, to fiercely advocate and aggressively protect our people and hopefully fulfill Hashem’s will – and view each moment as a privilege and treasure.”
I read this email a few times and wondered about those who might be having second thoughts. The recent violence and struggle for a just peace is not new to Israel nor to Jewish history. It is unlikely this will change soon but is no reason not to believe that the trip home is meant to be.
Two days after receiving this email, one came from the Jewish Agency for Israel from my shlicha, informing me of the approval for my aliyah visa. The timing was exquisite. It probably meant nothing more than an efficient timetable, but I will take it as another sign that the path to home is clearer than ever. Now all I need to do is get rid of almost everything I own and (hint) find the perfect apartment in Jerusalem. No one said it would be easy.