You couldn’t miss the buzz surrounding the Nefesh B’Nefesh chartered aliya flight arriving last Thursday, July 12, to Tel Aviv, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the organization’s success in helping to facilitate the immigration of English-speaking immigrants to Israel.
I know of at least two families that were on that flight; it was startling to see their tagged photos on Facebook as they stepped onto the tarmac amid the throngs of welcoming Israelis, including soldiers, government officials, and family members and friends.
I have watched more than one Nefesh B’Nefesh video of immigrants coming “home,” including one tear-jerker in which three planeloads of olim simultaneously landed on the tarmac of Ben-Gurion Airport from New York, Toronto, and London in 2006. Just the image of hundreds of Jews returning to their homeland is enough for me to break out the Kleenex.
While most of my family and friends are not aware of this, I have attended NBN workshops in New York City and New Jersey, where I live, and have accumulated information to store away for the future — after all, it’s good to keep all options open in case a pogrom breaks out (!), job circumstances change, or I’ve simply had enough of suburban life in New Jersey. Such scenarios may take place years from now — or never.
What’s holding me back? Let’s just say my immediate family is not quite on board with this idea, and I don’t know if I would ever have the guts to pack up, sell my home and possessions (that basement has GOT to get cleaned out already!), and most of all, say goodbye to those I love. A cop-out, I know, but it’s not so easy to move to the other side of the world — even if that is where one’s soul is drawn.
(And besides, does the Times of Israel really need one more oleh/olah blogger whining about life as an immigrant? Better to whine from the Diaspora…)
But in the meantime, we are making plans to celebrate my son’s bar mitzva next year in Jerusalem, and I continue to hone my Hebrew skills through ulpan classes, by reading easy Hebrew-language material — including slang on friends’ Facebook pages — and by blasting Mizrahi-Israeli music in the car and during treadmill workouts.
And G-d willing, we will all return home someday — chartered aliya flight or not.