Debra Weiner-Solomont

June 30th

Thirty-one years ago today, our family—my husband, our four sons (ranging in age from 12 to 2), and I—boarded a flight to Israel. We left our family and friends in Boston to live our dream of raising our family in Israel. Our fifth son was born in Israel, and today, on June 30th, he left for his third round of Miluim (reserve duty) along the Northern border of Israel.

Over the years, people have often asked us why we made Aliyah. Just this morning, someone asked me again. As I reflected on my answer, I thought of the Tatelbaum family, who made Aliyah from Michigan and buried their son Yakir z”l today. What was their dream?

This brought to mind last week’s Torah portion, Shelach Lecha. How could ten spies return to the Israelites with such a depressing and defeatist report? The Lubavitcher Rebbe posed this question, pointing out that these ten men were leaders chosen to scout the land. According to the Rebbe, the spies saw the land and were frightened not of defeat but of success. In the desert, all their physical and spiritual needs were met without much effort. Entering the land of Israel would mean leaving this comfort behind, facing battles, and working hard for their physical needs. The spies failed to understand that the Torah teaches us how to live a life of Torah u’Mada—of work with Torah values.

Reflecting on this brought me back to the question of why we came on Aliyah. We could have stayed in Boston, in a beautiful, warm community filled with Torah and warmth. But facing challenges and hardships is an integral part of who we are as Jews.

Sending a child off to battle is one of the hardest things a parent can do. Our dream was to live in our country, for better or for worse. We have experienced the best of times and now the worst of times. I could not be prouder and more frightened than I am today.

About the Author
Debra Weiner-Solomont is the Director of the Pardes Institute Community Education Program. She received her MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Debra along with her husband and sons came on aliyah from Brookline, MA. 31 years ago.