Jessica Levine Kupferberg

Aliyah in Troubled Times

My material life is being put in boxes by movers as a write.  Paintings wrapped, my late bubbie’s silver candlesticks nestled in brown paper, cardboard filled with captured smiles and racks of clothes. After months of culling through our stuff to see what was worthy of a spot on our lift or our flight, the lucky remaining items are making their way into our container and we look forward to seeing these “old friends” on the other side.

All along, our aliyah preparation has been plump with excitement– and, of course, anxiety.  After a year of research and planning, there is still so much you can’t prepare for, so much that is unknown.  And then there is just so much that you DO know that scares you, like the fact that the behemoth of Israeli bureaucracy will be waiting to swallow you up when you arrive and that you will have to take an Israeli driving test.  But even with all the stress and fears, we have retained a positive outlook and a sweet joy that we get to live in our homeland.

But our excitement is being bullied by the kidnapping of the three beautiful boys, and right near our new home.  In between purging and packing, I have been glued to the news and social media. Roads near our future home have been closed.  Drones have been buzzing overhead there, searching for the boys.  Our people are experiencing tremendous pain and fear and anger.  And it’s terrifying.

I am firmly telling my excitement: Do not let the bully win.  Those nameless, heartless people have taken our boys and that is already way, way too much. By clinging to the excitement of fulfilling our dream of aliyah, we take something away from them too.

I haven’t told my three youngest children about what has happened. There is enough challenge in saying goodbye to school, family and friends.  I don’t need to add fear of being kidnapped into that mix, not yet. I pray that by the time we land on our Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight next month, the boys’ will have been home with their families for weeks, and that we can rehash the miracle of their amazing return. I dream that we will have the luxury to just worry about when our lift will come and which popcicles are tasiest at the makolet.

We are committed to follow the path of Kalev and Yehoshua from last week’s parsha and have faith that Israel will be good for us.  We will still go up and live the dream of our people.  We will look at the kidnappers not as giants, but as small, small men.

Last week was an emotional final Shabbat in our San Diego area community as we start out on a month-long transitional cross-country adventure culminating in our aliyah flight from the east. As I kindled my Shabbat candles one last time in what I know as home, I was devastated to have to pray once again for the release of a Gilad, now along with a Naftali and an Eyal.

I have also seen from afar the amazing grit and unity of the people of Israel. We yearn to be with our brothers and sisters already, not just on the periphery.  I don’t know what the world or even my new hometown will be like when I light my first candles there.  But I still can’t wait.

About the Author
Jessica Levine Kupferberg is a writer and former litigation attorney. She made aliyah from La Jolla, California with her family during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 after driving across America. She blogs for the Times of Israel and her work has appeared in the Jerusalem Post,, The Jewish Journal, The Forward, Jweekly, and as part of Project 929 English, and as part of anthologies about aliyah and Covid-19.
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