Aliyah — Take Three

Thirty days from now (and 22 hours and 45 minutes) the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah flight will depart from JFK. My third son, Avraham, will be on that plane, winging his way to a new future. His two older brothers already live in Israel, both serving in the IDF — big footsteps to follow in, but  Avraham is totally up to the challenge. I will be the proudest mother ever, with three IDF soldier sons!

Generally, the more times you do something the easier it gets. Not completely true with sending a kid one-way to Israel. By the time Avraham gets on that plane, he will be my third child in three years to say goodbye. Yes, by now I know what’s necessary for him to shlepp, and what can be bought there. I know what accessories he will need for his army gun in the future, and which tactical gloves and kneepads to buy. (Buying most of that gear in triplicate these days…) The practicalities are not as daunting as they were for the first aliyah.

But, emotionally, I think it gets harder with each child. Right now half of my kids live in Israel, half here with me in New York. As of August 16th the majority of my children will be 6,000 miles away. I will be even more dependent on technology to keep in touch with my progeny. While the youngest, left behind for now, is thrilled as it means he gets 100% of my attention 100% of the time (watch how quickly that’ll get old for him) this mama knows she will always be calculating time changes and schedules and have her heart split between two countries – more than it has ever been.

This aliyah is hardest than the others — a few weeks ago Avraham had a nasty accident at work. In a nutshell, he broke his face, necessitating surgery and stitches, and lots of pain and suffering. Being able to be here for him, to take care of him, to make sure he got the care he needed, saw the right doctors and followed the treatment plans was a blessing. I kept thinking, what if this had happened in Israel, I wouldn’t be there, I wouldn’t know how to navigate the healthcare system once my hastily grabbed flight to Israel would have arrived, and my time taking care of him would be finite as life back home would be calling.

I had wanted to spend some one-on-one time with him before he left, but not like this. And right now, even though he is doing so much better and aliyah is proceeding on time, I just want to wrap him up in bubble wrap and keep him here, safe and sound. Not practical, and totally selfish. He needs to spread his wings and start living his own life. I just wish Israel wasn’t so far away.

By the time August 16 rolls around, his accident will be just a memory, and we will be focused on the future — I will cry many tears as we say goodbye. There will be tears of sadness, for sure — my son is leaving home and officially beginning life as an adult — but mostly they will be tears of pride. You would think that the pride would get old, that one would get used to the idea of having one’s sons move to Israel to live and to join the IDF, but every time I think about it, my heart wants to burst through my chest. My boys have made such a huge decision to move to Israel, to serve in the army, and they do it because they see that this is the right choice, the right place for them to be. I am blown away at the depth of feeling and commitment that these precious boys have found within themselves. Just thinking of that moment when he looks back and waves as he goes through passport control and out of our line of sight, I tear up. I can already see his face — a little fear, for sure, but mostly excitement and joy at what awaits him — how could I not be proud?

Avraham — be strong, my son, walk confidently towards your future — we are all so very proud of you.

About the Author
HaDassah Sabo Milner is a Welsh Jew who lives in Monsey NY. She is a writer and a blogger and a lifelong foodie, and works as a paralegal. She's married with four sons who provide her with much fodder for her writing projects. HaDassah's oldest son made aliyah in Aug 2013, and her second son joined him in July 2014. Son #3 made Aliyah in August 2016 and drafts to the IDF Jan 21, 2018.