Have you ever looked forward to something that you figured would happen one day, playing and replaying the potential scenes in your head? This morning I was lucky enough to watch these wonderful, movie-like scenes turn into reality in front of my very own eyes, at Ben Gurion Airport. I had a first row ticket to watch the best decision 232 people ever made in their entire life. I made the trip down from Kiryat Shmona, as there wasn’t a doubt in my my mind that I’d be in attendance at this event.
As a ten year old, I remember the welcoming ceremony being such a highlight, that even now, when I think of our Aliyah, I think of walking down those stairs and seeing the crazy scene in front of me. Ever since then, I’ve tried to make it to an arrival or two a year, to get that burst of Zionist enthusiasm and welcome these lucky people. There is nothing in the world is more emotional than singing Hatikva with new Israeli immigrants, who are singing their new anthem for the first time as citizens.
However, never before have I experienced the emotions that I felt today. You see, my best friend from Detroit, Max Kresch, made aliyah this morning. Completely on his own, he decided that he wants to live in the Jewish State. If that wasn’t enough, he is making aliyah and enlisting into the army. Think about that for a second. He’ll proudly wear the olive-green uniform, sweating his butt off, giving his all in order to protect us and a country he’s never yet lived in. The connection between the Jewish Nation and our Jewish land is powerful beyond measure, how else can you explain 59 “kids” deciding to put their lives on the line for a country they didn’t grow up in?
Max was my best friend in Detroit, dating back to nursery. We kept in touch throughout the years since my own Aliyah, the highlight being his year in Israel this past year.
I won’t ever forget the moment he told me he was making Aliyah. We were driving around in Modi’in about an hour before Shabbat, and he dropped the bomb. “I’m making Aliyah,” he says. Three words, that mean the everything in the world. Three simple words, that for 2000 years, Jews dreamed of being able to say. He said it on a street a few blocks away from the Maccabees’ shul, and a short distance from their battles took place in the Chanukah Miracle. I couldn’t wait for this expectation to come to fruition. My best friend from Detroit, who I threatened to my parents that I would stay with while they moved, was going to be making that same flight as we did only 9 years before. That crazy leap of faith, deciding what you really believe in, and getting the tremendous Zchut of living in Eretz Yisrael.
Something about the Aliyah arrivals just hits me deep. The blue and white flags, the “Veshavu Banim” songs, and the glowing happiness of the new immigrants and every single person in Terminal One, is the most special thing in the world. The fact that I was there with my British friends, South African friend, and my American friends, is so special. Without all of us making aliyah, we never would have crossed paths. That’s the definition of Kibbutz Galuyot, which is predicted by our Prophets in the Tanach.
I will never forget his glowing smile when he got off that bus, that ever-lasting hug we had when he finally reached me, and how proud I am of him for making this decision for himself. It’s not always going to be easy buddy, but we’re here for you with anything you need.
I woke up at 6 AM today, glowing with happiness. I’m so happy for him, and maybe a little selfishly for myself too. I get my best friend from Detroit back full-time, and I can’t wait for the experiences we’ll share together here in the Holy Land. Max, you and 59 other kids our age gave me a lot of strength and motivation to join the Israel Defense Forces this coming March. Love you buddy, and
ברוכים באים הבייתה!!!!