I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome one and all (realistically only Jewish Anglo Olim in and around Emek Rafaim) to my blog. Each Blog entry will address the trials and tribulations of the process I am about to embark on; Aliyah L’Eretz Yisrael, Shivat Tzion, defying the White Paper, whatever you wish to call it. It will also offer one Aliyah ‘tip’ or recommendation in each entry. At times my writing will take the form of a public journal, recount of hilarious moments that must be shared, confessions, rants and more. My writing style is unique, to say the least, it is a true expose of realistic human emotion which facilitates coexistence between the most serious of topics and the hilarity that is everyday life. All comments are welcome.
Currently I am in, what I call, the ‘forthcoming faze’, between your decision/announcement of Aliyah and stepping onto flight LY___
Administratively, this involves dealing with the Sochnut reps in Australia, my good mates at the ZFA. It is actually quite sneaky how they operate, and clever too. What happens is they are incredibly efficient; I get phone calls checking up on me, emails, offers for appointments and I even received my Passport back EARLY, that is correct, I didn’t stutter, a Jewish institution delivered a document early. I’ll give you all a moment to process that one…
As I mentioned, this is all part of their grand scheme. The average Oleh will think ‘Wow, they’re really efficient! If they’re this good in Sydney, I’m sure Misrad HaPnim and Lishkat HaGiyus are even better!’ They will have no hesitancy in continuing with Aliyah, it seems as though everyone has their back! Thankfully I have had the advantage of watching my uncle and cousins go through the Israeli Ministries, which is a bit like walking on a tightrope, except there is no rope, no where to walk and a face with excessive make-up behind the counter exhaling Malboro breath.
Besides the regular trip to Jewish Community HQ, which my family appropriately calls ‘The Elders of Zion’, a lot of what I am required of is emotional. I was told the hardest part of this stage is telling everyone you are going and why you are going. Thankfully, I haven’t had to do this, essentially, I told my mother and my grandmother and henceforth, somehow, absolutely everyone in the Jewish Community knew about it, as though the news was as dated as the Kennedy Assassination.
On a serious note it has been quite hard in many respects, however I have learnt a lot in this stage and I’m glad I took time to experience my forthcoming stage. I originally planned on making Aliyah about a month after my decision, however I stayed a bit longer and studied another semester at University. I went through the entire process, learnt the lessons, and made the most of what this crucial stage offers. Essentially this stage allows you to ‘talk the talk’ before you ‘walk the walk’. It has proved very worthwhile. ALIYAH TIP NUMERO ECHAD: Have a ‘forthcoming stage’ of approx. 3-4 months and use this time wisely.
There were only two people who cried when hearing of my Aliyah, well, actually three, but I don’t count my father as his tear duct leaks like an old man’s bladder. The two were, my paternal grandmother, and my cleaning lady. I wish to recount the sobbing of these two women, which represent the thoughts and emotions that have consumed this stage of my Aliyah. Ultimately, emotional emersion is the very purpose of the ‘forthcoming stage’.
My grandmother is a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who endured the most infamous of Nazi camps. I went over to her house one evening with my father to tell her my news, I new she would be the hardest person to tell, but also the most important.
My grandfather Z”l, also a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, past away two and a half years ago. I knew, that because of his experience, my decision would have made him proud. After the war, my grandfather who was active in the Dror Zionist movement began to make his way to Eretz Yisrael. He was stopped on the way by his great-uncle who told him that he must first go back to his village to see if his sisters were alive, and indeed one of them was. A passerby came through the village and showed my grandfather a photo of his sister who was rehabilitating in Sweden (where I was later born). Granddad decided to wait for my Nana to return and when she did, it was not long before they were married. They were ready to emigrate by early 1948, when the situation in Israel was anything but desirable and when the British made immigration difficult and traumatic. They were given visas to Australia and off they went.
This side to my grandfather’s Zionism, I knew, and it was enough to ensure me of his Naches. However, the ‘forthcoming faze’ and my commitment to it allowed me to, on numerous occasions, engage with my grandmother about Zionism, for the first time in my life. She told me fascinating stories, for example, one of her uncles who made it to Israel after the war sent her and my grandfather a letter upon hearing of their move to Australia. He told them that “they hadn’t learnt enough” from the Holocaust, i.e. for moving to a country where they still didn’t control their own destiny. Another moving image she portrayed was at our ‘breaking the fast’ meal this Yom Kippur. In honor of the war’s 40th anniversary, my grandmother explained to me how in 1973 my grandfather stayed in bed distraught, watching the television, listening to the radio, and unable to move, he feared it was the end for Israel, the place where he originally planned to make his home.
The night after an emotional, teary, inspiring and unforgettable conversation with my father and grandmother, I did what I do best and went to sleep, knowing that the news was out there.
At the wee hour of 11am on a Friday, I awoke to the sound of an Argentinian lady sobbing at the end of my bed and after spending five months at Kiryat Moriah (the home of the English and Spanish speaking Machon), this sound was distinctly familiar. It was my beloved cleaning lady, a heartfelt Catholic motheresque character who has had the pleasure of knowing my skid-marked underwear for twenty years. She was beside herself, asking “why you want to go? I can come visit? Army dangerous, no?” and, most importantly, “who clean for you?”. I had only seen her cry once before, when my sister invited home a Chilean friend she had made in Israel. She said ‘like you and Palestinian, us and Chilean’. I hope Livni and Kerry will solve the Argentinian-Chilean conflict in the current negotiations.
My Nana and my cleaning lady represent the competing dichotomies of the Aliyah process. The practical and the emotional. They divide time, thought, and action and only by considering both can one make Aliyah. It is inevitable that these two are intertwined, but it is important to separate them at times as well. This is the purpose of the forthcoming stage. Taking place immediately prior to the rigorous and stressful ‘preparation stage’ it allows a distinction between the two forces of your journey. It allows you to examine when emotion goes hand in hand with reality and when it challenges practicalities.
For the past three and a half months I have been in this stage. Every discussion I have had, every argument I have entered, every adversity I have faced and every ‘five year plan’ I have designed has made me surer than ever. As P.Diddy would say, ‘Tell the world, I’m coming home’.