Aliyah: Five Years an Israeli

At the end of June, about nine weeks ago, I hit the five year mark. That is, five years ago, my husband, my 17-month old, and I boarded an airplane from New Jersey to Tel Aviv. A lot has happened since then. I’ve given birth to three more kids, finished my legal internship and passed six exams, turned 40, moved twice more, worked three different jobs, and dealt with doctors, ganenot, banks, and more.

I’ve gone through many transitional stages at this point and I’ve come to the following conclusion. I can see why people might move back to the States (or whatever their native country is).

I know I miss certain things about it (not to mention family and friends): long, dark highways, the smell of worms and dirt, enormous stores where you can buy just about anything, drive-thrus, a true autumn with rolling hills covered in beautiful pink, orange, and red leaves. An authentic winter with fluffy snow falling, the freezing wind coloring your cheeks pink, the festive scent of cold, the twinkles of snowflakes against the street lamps, the soft, cold blankets on the ground in which you can birth snow angels or slide down at terrifying speeds. Blinking Christmas lights draped from street lamps, houses, and evergreens bringing happiness into the long, dark nights. Being able to fly four hours and be in a different state with different scenery. Being able to drive six hours to a random place where people are still friendly.

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The literal BIGNESS and s p a c e of everything.

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Of course there is a downside to the United States, now more than ever. The turmoil, the divisiveness – it breaks my heart. But it doesn’t change what Michigan holds for me, what the US holds for me.

It also doesn’t change what Israel holds for me.

It’s my PAST – the place where most of my children were born and where I’ve already made countless memories.

It’s my PRESENT – where my kids are going to school and making friends – friends with whom they will be forever close. Where I have people I like to spend time with, places where I love to get coffee, locations where I take excellent photographs.

It’s my FUTURE – where my husband and I will celebrate our 10-year anniversary, where my boys will be in school together next year, where my little girls will be lighting Shabbat candles for years to come.

And Israel has its own charm. It trucks snow all over the country for kids (and kids at heart) to play in; it has gorgeous mountain weather only a few hours north or east; there’s fantastic hiking and history along the national Israel trail or even in Eilat.

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I can live in Netanya and see people with surfboards, snowboards, and scooters; and each season there are new restaurants and things to do popping up everywhere.

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But even with all these roots that are already planted and continue to grow, I still want to visit my first land, my original home, the nurture to my nature, the land of big, open, huge, colorful places.

Five years in Israel has led me to realize what Acceptance is.

  • Acceptance in knowing what each place has done for you, what it will continue to do for you, and what it can offer.
  • Acceptance in realizing the place where you will truly blossom and be challenged.
  • Acceptance in internalizing where your kids need to be.
  • Acceptance in acknowledging the upside to both types of government and infrastructure.
  • Acceptance in deciding that neither place is perfect, nor will be in the near future.
  • Acceptance in finding that both the old country and the new one are your homes. That it’s okay to love both, get aggravated by both, miss both, get jealous of people in both, want to improve both – and all at the same time.

So, here I am five years in. I have accepted my life and everything that goes along with it. I have accepted the difficulties (even as I am annoyed by them), knowing that this is the best choice for me and for my family. I have accepted that this life isn’t for everyone – but it is for me.

I am me, I am Israeli and American, and I am both here to stay and to visit the States. And you know what? That’s okay.

About the Author
Talya Woolf is a four-year Olah, an American-licensed attorney, handgun instructor, amateur photographer, and artist. She is politically conservative, Modern Orthodox, and ardent Zionist. She enjoys spending time with family, friends, running, photography, and reading about highly contagious diseases and WWII.
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