A letter to students in Israel on post-high school programs

Dear Students

You are at a critical point in your lives; one that may define who you will become later in your life. You chose to leave your cities of origin and spend a year (or more) in Israel learning and experiencing the Land. Likely, many of you arrived with feelings of apprehension, fear, excitement and joy. For some, the thrill was new-found freedom and for others it was the prospect of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

It is now nearly five months since you arrived in Israel and have more than acclimated to your daily lives in Israel, albeit in the context of school and not day-to-day “living” as citizens of the Land.

Over the course of the past few months, one of the issues many of you perhaps struggled with and discussed was the subject of Aliya to Israel. For some of you, it was never even an option to consider while for others, it perhaps was the seed being planted for the future.

No matter where you are on that sliding scale, allow me to speak to your heart…

Israel has vast resources and a world-renowned reputation as the Start-Up capital of the world. And yet, with all of its natural resources, there is one resource that exceeds them all: YOU. You, as a Jew are Israel’s NUMBER ONE resource, and she needs you now, more than ever. And here you are at that critical point I mentioned above.

As you contemplate your future and think about what next year holds, you may be pondering if you will return for Shana Bet or if you will return to your home country to continue your schooling.

For many of you, the feelings of a future in Israel are stirring inside your soul and perhaps you are struggling with those feelings. And to you I say: Listen to your heart! Listen very carefully. When you return to your homes in Chutz La’aretz, remember that while your past and present are THERE, your future is HERE.

The resources out there are vast to help you consider this idea. And whether the decision to make Aliya is for the immediate future or if it is for the not-too-distant future, remember: listen to your heart as it speaks to you NOW about your future in the Land of Israel.

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.
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