Melinda Mishkin Kieffer
Proud to be an American, yet Israel is home.

Aliyah-versary #2

Exactly a year ago today I blogged in this space, “When celebrating my 2nd Aliya-versary next year, maybe this summer will seem like a distant memory. But if not, I will celebrate anyway, because I am home.”

Last summer is not a distant memory of the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge, of those 3 dear boys, Eyal Yifrach, z”l, 19, Naftali Fraenkel z”l, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar z”l, 16, as well as the 66 young Israel Defense Forces Soldiers who lost their lives. Attending funerals and visiting wounded soldiers will never leave my memory. I continue to be amazed that we raised more than $100,000 in only 4 weeks from friends, family and strangers, which allowed us to purchase much needed supplies for our soldiers as well as those living in The South.

As tunnels were discovered, and the rockets mostly stopped and as summer turned into somewhat cooler days, Rosh Hashanah and the Fall Chageem were upon us. We voted in our first national elections which mercifully ended the non-stop election commercials and pundits on talk shows, claiming to know how each candidate could point our Nation in either a positive or negative direction. A new coalition government was formed with much controversy, leaving out any representation of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement here. Despite criticism from my fellow American Conservative Jews, the fact remains that until there is a wave of consistent American Conservative Aliyah, our Movement will never be adequately represented nor recognized. Numbers in the voting booth speak louder than speeches.

During these past 12 months my roots here have deepened, my skin has gotten a tad thicker, my driving has become more defensive, my Hebrew skills more improved. Unlike my husband who easily reads the daily Hebrew papers, I mostly understand the news as well as Israeli programming and marvel how this happened.

It pains me that tolerance for religious pluralism, sexual preferences and acceptance of our Ethiopian brothers and sisters is not yet realized. Extremism is a danger to our nation and must be addressed in a direct manner. The “Milky Crisis” seems to have passed now that there are these more important life and death issues.

Ties to family and friends outside of Israel has remained as strong as before 2 years ago. We have missed various life cycle events, happy and sad, but have celebrated and grieved with each through the internet. Now that we are connected with 3 American/Israeli Chayaleem Bodedeem (Lone Soldiers), we continue to learn about their IDF experiences and are thrilled to play even a small part in their lives.

As a former news junkie, this year I weaned myself off of the continual news feed of CNN and FOX News, knowing that the truth is somewhere in between. The Iran Deal looms large and its potential danger to Israel is not taken lightly, yet I’m relieved that it’s not a part of daily conversation here – except for those same talk show pundits mentioned above. Israelis have had 67 years of worrying about “what’s next” so I’m taking my cues from them and so far, sleeping well at night.

There’s much I still don’t understand about this start-up nation that sometimes is stuck in the last century or more. Finding meaningful employment is still a challenge for me yet I’m hopeful that through networking, schmoozing and job postings, that great position is just around the corner – please!

My blessings continue to multiply as our family continues to grow and flourish. Knowing that my 9 grandchildren will always speak Hebrew, as well as English, is part of my dream-come-true. I know that I’ve laughed much more than I’ve cried this year and hope this imbalance always continues. Walking on these holy streets, hand in hand with my loving husband of 42 years, completes our dream of truly coming Home.

About the Author
Melinda/Malka is a Certified Relationship Life Coach and a Jewish Educator, with a focus on Israel and Holocaust Education. As a Life coach she has worked with college students, young couples and adults who all want to make change towards better living. She's taught in Day Schools, Jewish overnight summer camps and led trips to Israel and Poland. She & her husband made Aliyah in 2013, returned to the US for a few years, but now enjoy their home in Jerusalem. She is the proud Bubbie of 13 wonderful grandchiildren.