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Celebrating 5 Years of “Becoming Israeli”

It happened five years ago, today.
The first time I held an actual physical copy of my book, “Becoming Israeli”.
It felt like I was holding one of my own children immediately after birth.
The hundreds and hundreds of hours that went into this creation…
the writing, the searching for contributors, the editing, the editing again, and yet again, the working with the typesetter, the designing with the graphic designer, being blessed to have Yossi Klein Halevi write an incredibly powerful foreword to the book and Michael Oren share sweet words of support on the back cover…
all paid off.
In the form of one paperback book.
237 pages long.
50 stories from 40 olim (immigrants).
Together telling the story, our story, of what it means to leave it all behind, make aliyah and acclimate to life in the Jewish state.
The moments when we’re crying because the blessing of being part of this historical moment in Jewish history is so positively and viscerally overwhelming.
And the moments when we’re crying because we’re so frustrated that it’s taking so long to feel at home in the Jewish homeland.
The moments when we rejoice over understanding a joke told in Hebrew and laugh out loud (very loud!).
And the moments when we can’t believe that still, after all these years, we can’t fully express ourselves in the Hebrew language.
The moments a “stranger” helps us or gives us advice or asks us for a favor in a way that would never happen in the countries we came from.
And the moments we become that “stranger”, helping or giving advice or asking someone for a favor…because we’re “becoming (more and more) Israeli.”
And then, the greatest moment of them all:
When we see our kids growing up here, speaking Hebrew and simply being Israeli, because that’s all they know, and we know, very deeply, that any struggles we’ve faced or sacrifices we made were absolutely well worth it.
Publishing “Becoming Israeli” was a big part of my aliyah journey. and my life journey.
After years of living in Israel and becoming hyper-aware of the fact that “Only in Israel” moments were happening around me all the time, I knew that this story needed to be told.
The story of Jews returning home.
So I told that story.
Along with the help of 39 other olim writers and bloggers who, like me, also knew and deeply felt that we are living in historic times and we have the great merit to take part, and play a part, in Jewish history.
“Becoming Israeli”.
It’s one of the greatest things I ever did in my life.
And I’m so glad that it’s in the world.
Thank you to all of those who, over the past 5 years, have bought it and read it and shared with me your thoughts about it. (If you still haven’t read it…check out Amazon or Book Depository 🙂 .)
The journey continues.
Each day becoming more and more Israeli.
And, as a result, and probably most importantly, becoming more and more myself.
Becoming a version of me that I now know I could have only become here in this place, in this country, in this land, with these people.
About the Author
Akiva Gersh has been working in the field of Jewish and Israel Education for over 20 years. In 2020 he founded @Israel to share his love and passion for Israel with students, schools and communities around the world through his online classes, courses and virtual tours of Israel. Akiva is also the editor of the book "Becoming Israeli" (at-israel.com/book), a compilation of essays that gives an inside look at the unique experience of making aliyah and the journey of acclimating to life in Israel. Akiva himself made aliyah in 2004 with his wife Tamar and they live in Pardes Hanna with their four kids. You can learn more about his work at www.at-israel.com as well as about his work teaching about Judaism and veganism at www.akivagersh.com/veganrabbi.
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