In January 2023 my husband and I became dual citizens, we are now Israeli Americans. Most of my readers have been to Israel once or twice, some not at all. Many have been several times or go annually. But everyone of you holds a special place in your heart and soul for Israel, which we call home.
When referring to someone becoming Israeli we use the term Making Aliyah. When going to Jerusalem, we say “going up to”, Oleh. Jerusalem is situated on a mountainous area, however it is because of the spiritual essence we say Oleh. We are now called Olim. Hebrew can be a bit confusing, to those who speak and understand the language it makes sense.
Why we made Aliyah?
My paternal grandparents and parents all dreamt of making Aliyah. My father’s parents fled horrible situations in Eastern Europe at the turn of the last century (similar to the October 7 massacre), and came to the US seeking refuge. The idea of moving to tiny vulnerable Israel was overwhelming. My parents traveled to Israel in 1953 (Israel was five years old), considering Aliyah. Several months into kibbutz life my Dad said he couldn’t see building a life there, heartbroken they returned to the US. It was my Zade (grandfather in Yiddish) who placed the Zionist seed in my heart, my parents nurtured it.
We have owned a home in Israel for twelve years. It’s been the most magical adventure of our lives. When covid hit we were unable to go to Israel (non Israeli’s were denied entry). Having nothing but time and always looking for a great project I began the process of filling out the forms for Aliyah. I was going to write a series on the process, but this is not the time, too hilarious. Finally we were allowed into Israel and discovered we needed to repair a major pipe to save our home. We could not have that again.
For our sixty-fifth birthdays we decided to take the plunge and become Israeli citizens. We were warned about taxes and bureaucratic headaches. We told ourselves that at the end of our lives we would have deep regrets if we did not make Aliyah. We wanted to be a part of the story, put a stake in the ground, say we belong and stand by our brothers and sisters in Israel. We see ourselves as ambassadors to Israel and the Jewish people, in Hebrew we call that Shlichim.
We are witnessing rising anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, even among our own. Who could have figured this horrible situation we see ourselves in now would have come so quickly following the lifting of Covid travel restrictions. Again we find ourselves in the US. Our flights were canceled recently. We desperately want to stand with our fellow Israelis. We will go soon.
We are a global family. We know hundreds of people here and in Israel who have sons, daughters, husbands, wives, grandchildren, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters and, in some cases grandfathers called up. They are defending our land, our people, their mothers. So many have fallen recently after being tortured and murdered in cold blood. Others are cruelly being held hostage on the world stage, while Hamas pretends to be helping the Palestinian cause. More will perish in the days to come…To see the hauntingly beautiful video of the fest before the shooting… https://twitter.com/elad_si/status/1716212203513143383
We happened to be in LA during the siege. We drove to Temple Stephen Wise for a vigil. It was thrilling to see the line stretching for blocks. It was unlikely we would make it in so we returned back and streamed it. I sobbed on and off. One speech stood out by Rabbi Noah Farkas, President and CEO of JUF LA (a bit shortened), it is stunning… made me sit up proud.
“This is personal…We have a collective heart like a seismograph. We feel the cries of the mothers and fury of the fathers. We feel the weight of the backpacks on the soldiers marching into Hell. We know what the terrorists don’t know. We know what the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Europeans, Caliphates, Nazi’s, Soviets didn’t know.
We have a key to life that no one knows. We have witnessed them rise, put their boots on our necks and have witnessed them fall. They do not know us! They can’t fathom the Jewish heart. They can’t fathom a people spread around the globe yet feels deeply connected to each other. A people whose body is in the West but heart is in the East. They cannot fathom us and will not beat us!” To see the full speech go to 1:04, https://www.youtube.com/live/lBf4cY6p_1c?si=6XwsD71Jo14MiLgG
I shudder when thinking about all the brilliant, kind, young beautiful faces going off in army uniforms bravely staring down the face of evil, praying they return home safely. I have thanked our friends who were born into Israel and so many who were brave enough to uproot their lives, raise families and build Israel so those of us in the US and elsewhere can come and go. We can’t imagine a world without Israel.
We have grown children and grandchildren in the US. By planting seeds, we pray our family will love, visit, and support Israel in good times and in bad. Maybe some will make Aliyah? We belong, it is our home. Fulfilling this three generational dream by making Aliyah was number one on my bucket list. I have no way of knowing what is number one on your bucket list, but achieving it is indescribably delicious.
The final words from the Israeli National Anthem, Hatikvah (the hope) buzz in my head when I go to sleep and when I wake up.” To be a free nation in our own land, the land of Zion, and Jerusalem”. Am Yisroel Chai (the nation of Israel lives)!