Yoni Spigelman
Follow Our Journey Home

Aliyah Diary: Part 7

Shavua Tov from the dining room table in our new apartment, in our home, in Israel. I originally started writing this post on the airplane, around 35,000 feet in the air. When I began writing it, all of the heartache, stress, and emotions from Aliyah day boiled over, and it was a pretty negative post… I never finished that original post, and decided to get some rest, and let it sit until after Shabbos. After we had time to decompress and take a good look back on our Aliyah day experience.
Before making Aliyah, we were given some very good advice by friends of ours who have already been there. We were told to let go of all expectations, and to take things as they come. We were also encouraged to reaffirm the saying אין עוד מלבדו (Ein Od Milvado [There is none but Him]), to remind ourselves that at the end of the day, Hashem is ultimately the one in control. This advice has been hard to follow but has also been some of the best we have ever received.
As I wrote in a previous post, Aliyah is hard. There is literally NOTHING about it that is easy. Aliyah day was no different. There was nothing easy about the day of our Aliyah.
Aliyah day really started the night before. We stayed up packing and making sure we had everything together for the big move. Some of our friends came over to help us pack, and we stayed up talking, and packing until around three in the morning. Finally, we finished… After what felt like months of packing and repacking suitcases, there was nothing left to pack… At 3am we hugged our friends and said good night. At 6:30am I woke up and was driven to Baltimore Washington International Airport to pick up the rental car that we would take to Newark Airport for our flight.
The hugs were long, and the tears were plenty that morning… Saying ‘see you later’ to our incredible family was one of the most difficult things in the world. For a long time we just held on to each other, not ready for what letting go meant… But eventually, it was time to go… It was time for us to take this step. It was time for us to head into our future.
We stopped for coffee, and food (by the way, for those making Aliyah… Get used to coffee… Lots, and lots of coffee) and we were on our way out of Baltimore. The drive to Newark was full of a mixture of so many emotions. We were exhausted, heartbroken, and excited beyond comprehension all at the same time.
We arrived at Newark with plenty of time to spare. When we pulled up to Terminal C, we looked for a porter for about five minutes. We had twenty pieces of luggage, two adults, and two young children… Basically, too many bags, too little people (and two little people), we needed some help with our luggage. The search turned out to be fruitless, so I paid for two carts, and unloaded the car, while Tali unloaded the girls. We improvised and came up with a new plan! We decided that I would take the car back to the rental agency and Tali would wait for me where I dropped them off. After I dropped off the car, I found out that the AirTrain was out of service, so I needed to take a shuttle bus back to Terminal C. I waited about five minutes for the shuttle bus, boarded, and was on my way back to get checked in… That was when I noticed the car rental key still in my pocket…
Panic! What do I do?! I need to help Tali with the bags and the kids!! We need to get checked in and through security!! How could I be so stupid to leave the keys in my pocket!!
After a few minutes of panic, I found my way back to Tali. We came up with a new plan. We decided that we would go check in, get our big bags checked, and then we would figure out how to get the keys back to the rental agency. Sounded like a good plan. We still had lots of time left! So off we went (special shout out to the advisor from Yachad Yad-B’Yad who helped get our bags into the airport).
We began the check-in process, when we hit our next problem. Apparently, we did not have all of the appropriate paperwork, and if we did not somehow go get it and print it out, we would not be able to fly. Spoiler alert, we DID have the right paperwork the whole time. So, as you could probably guess, we experienced some more panic. Eventually, we were able to figure out the issue and finish the check-in process (phew!). NO TIME TO REST THOUGH!!
I caught the AirTrain (which was apparently in service now… sort of) and went back to return the rental key. This process ended up taking about an hour and a half. We were running out of time… After returning the key, missing another AirTrain, and running back to Terminal C (yes, I said running… It was a nice workout) I made it back to Tali and the girls. We now had less than an hour left until our flight was scheduled to leave. We didn’t know what to do! But you know what? We made it… After some more excitement we eventually made it onto the line for boarding.
As soon as we got into that line, something changed. From the moment we entered the line to get onto the plane until we left the airport on the other side, we were surrounded by people who just wanted to help. On the boarding line one woman asked if she could take a bag for us, and another woman asked if she could walk with the girls and help them to the plane. As we boarded the plane, one of the flight attendants told me that I could leave a bag up front and come back to get it when we got the girls settled in for the flight. When we arrived at our seats, a flight attendant noticed how many people we were, and noticed that we were not all sitting together… He told us that there was an entire row of seats that were empty and that we were welcome to sit there… When we landed, the people from Sal Klita (the Israeli Absorption Center) met us at the plane and helped us with our bags.
We followed the people from Sal Klita around the airport, received our Aliyah money, one SIM card, candy bouquets for the girls, and our first Israeli citizenship IDs. The moment was surreal… It is still surreal… After the COVID tests, a grumpy Sheirut driver, broken seatbelts, and a 45-minute drive… We were home… Being welcomed by our family at our new apartment.
As I sit here and reflect on our Yom Aliyah. I think about the expectations that we had for that day. I think about how differently we thought our Aliyah date would go. And I realize that my friends were right. As this Shabbos went on, I began to let go of the expectations that I had for moving to Israel, and I decided to let God into my life a little bit more. אין עוד מלבדו. This is something I plan to keep working on. We moved to Israel because we believe that here is where we belong. We moved to Israel because we know that this is where we want to raise our children, and we want our family to live and grow. I know that there will be challenges and difficulties living in this land. But this is the land that we choose to be in, the land that we are happy to now officially call home…
Love you all,
About the Author
My family and I made Aliyah in August this past summer. A few weeks before we made Aliyah, I began a small Facebook blog, just to share our experiences, good and bad. I then upgraded to WordPress. In the blog, I share about everyday life as an Oleh Chadash in Israel. I share about our wins and our struggles with adapting to our new life here in the Holy Land.