Hi, I’m Aleeza Ben Shalom. I’m a wife and a mother of five children and one sweet, loving dog – Koda the Kelev.
I’m heading to the airport this Sunday, February 28th for the culmination of a lifelong dream: aliyah to Israel. Moving, or rather returning my soul, to the country that the Jewish people longed to go to for more than 2,000 long years.
We don’t have a house in America.
We don’t have a car in America.
It’s all sold.
All of our possessions are in a shipping container making their way across the ocean to Israel.
Everything but our physical bodies is in Israel.
For months, Israeli officials told us that our sweet mini Aussie doodle, Koda, could move with us to Israel.
We paid for Koda’s space on our aliyah flight. We got a permit from vet services. We also paid for Koda’s certification from American authorities. Over a thousand dollars and tens of hours.
As the smallest member of our family, Koda is a light load — she weighs less than 7 kilos. Big things come in small packages, right?
We got Koda the Kelev to help us through the pandemic before we were approved to make aliyah. My kids were struggling with not seeing friends and having no in-person school. We know social distancing will continue in Israel and we are prepared to face that… with Koda by our side.
Koda was the missing piece in our family.
She brought the light back to my kids’ eyes. She snuggled us when we were down and Koda helped us adjust to a new difficult life. She made our family whole, she is our beloved new addition.
Koda is everything I am proud my kids have grown to be — welcoming, friendly, and makes you feel loved. She prefers Shabbat table scraps to her own dog food.
Koda is a Ben Shalom! She is a part of our family and she wants to make her home in Israel!
With a black tail, brown body and 3 white paws… the 4th one is brown, she is sure to warm your heart. She just turned one on February 18th and Aliyah was her birthday present!
Or so we thought.
And now, at the very last moment, a roadblock has been put up that is keeping our sweet Koda off that flight.
Help us #BringKodaHome
Here’s our story:
I dreamt of making aliyah for over 25 years.
When dating, my husband and I pledged to one another that we would make aliyah together. Had he not agreed…well, I wouldn’t have picked him.
That’s how important aliyah is to me.
Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, we finally got the nerve to make our dream happen.
We submitted our aliyah forms.
We got up-to-date passports for all the kids.
And we completed mountains of paperwork to authorize us to come.
We are uprooting our family.
We are leaving our beloved relatives and dear friends.
And we’re doing that with Koda by our side.
Or so we thought.
Now, here’s the dilemma:
On Wednesday morning, we were told: “The Committee” changed its mind. Koda could no longer accompany us to Israel.
Your first question was ours too — who IS this Committee?! Who are these mystery people who hold our fate in their hands, who changed this decision with no explanation?
We don’t know. All offices are closed or don’t answer the phone. All emails are either not replied to or have auto-replies. We have no idea who you are, Committee, who upended our plan one year (really 25 years… really, 2,000 years!) in the making.
I know you are not Nefesh B’Nefesh, whose mission is to make aliyah easier. NBN, you have been fighting to get all of us to Israel. Thank you. You have been amazing and truly have made my process easier.
I know you are not the founders of the State of Israel, the scrappy idealists who came and made the desert bloom.
I know you are not the current leaders of Israel, who welcomed 20,000 new residents from 70 countries during a global pandemic.
This flight we are booked on is special. An anonymous donor, an angel here on earth, financed a special aliyah charter flight for this Sunday. This is the only flight scheduled before Passover, and there is no guarantee any will be scheduled after Passover either.
If there is one thing I know about Israel, it’s DIFFICULT! Nothing is easy and you need to be tough to make it. And it should be hard. Nothing good is easy. We know that.
So here we are, courageous, tough, leaving everyone and everything we know.
There are no other flights. There are no pet carrier options. Our two teenagers are already in Israel, waiting for us. Waiting for Koda.
So we’re pleading:
Let Koda the “kelev” fly with us.
Koda is “already Israeli” — she eats bamba and falafel and barks her mind when she has something to say. She is ready to fly with us this Sunday on a special rescue mission like so many that Israel has undertaken before.
We ask you to reconsider and help us bring Koda home!
A friend of ours is all set to pick up Koda at Ben Gurion airport since we can’t have her in our quarantine hotel. Every inconvenience, every form to fill out, we are fine with all of it.
Just let her fly. Bring Koda home!
This week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, is the one where God instructs Moses on how to build an eternal light, a lamp that burns continuously.
Israel’s national anthem is Hatikvah, which means “hope”. The hope of the Jewish people is that undying and persistent flame, which burned through years of exile and strife, that we would someday return to the land of Israel.
Committee, whoever you are, whatever agency or entity you represent, we are ready to return.
We ask you to welcome the Ben Shaloms, human and canine alike.
Please allow all of my family to come home.