My name is Adina Cohen and I made aliyah from America a little over two years ago. I grew up in a house that was extremely passionate about Israel and my family supported me wholeheartedly when I made the move. In the months leading up to my aliyah I remember thinking about everything I was leaving behind and giving up by moving across the world. I come from a close-knit extended family and have a large, amazing group of friends. I realized that I would miss cousins’ weddings, family reunions, the chagim with my family, my friends’ weddings, eventually the birth of their children, the birth of my nieces and nephews and so much more.
I made a mental list of the friends whose weddings I would fly back to America for, keeping it to my closest friends to keep it practical. In turn, I gained comfort from knowing that whenever it was that I got married, those same friends would do everything they could to fly in to celebrate with me. At the end of the day, even with all those sacrifices, I determined that Israel is where I want to be. If only I had known that moving to Israel would mean that my sisters might not be allowed at my wedding- something I had (rightfully) taken for granted in my pre-aliyah calculations.
At the start of 2020, COVID entered the global arena. The world shifted and expectations changed. By the time that I got engaged in August, the world was looking brighter with the efficacy of vaccines and as late as November I was hopeful that not only would my family and closest friends be at my wedding, but even many of my other friends and some extended family would be able to make it as well. At the end of November, Omicron arrived in Israel. Suddenly, the airports were shut down and I began to have to check my expectations.
First check – my friends and extended family will not be at my wedding. Maybe there is a chance that two of my best friends who have first-degree relatives will be able to get in, but not more than that.
Second check – Omicron has no sign of letting up, it looks like I should prepare myself for my best friends not being able to come.
Third check – America was just announced as a red country. I had never in a million years considered the fact that my sisters and brothers-in-law would not be able to be at my wedding. Even if for whatever reason my friends couldn’t come, there was absolutely no reason for me to assume that my sisters would also be barred from entering the country for the most important day of my life as of yet. They are fully vaccinated and more than willing to be compliant with the quarantine restrictions. And yet, as of right now, I have until January 7th to hope for a change. After that point, even if the rules change and siblings are allowed in the country, my sisters will miss my wedding since they would not be out of quarantine before my wedding date. I have a little under two weeks to pray for a change, see a change and then receive the necessary approval for my sisters to be allowed in the country.
My wedding is three weeks away. I had always imagined that those three weeks would be filled with excitement (and maybe a little bit of last-minute stress) as I prepare to embark on the next step of my life. I imagined having my family here to help and to celebrate. Instead, for the past week and a half I have cried almost every day. I am a bundle of nerves, and I cannot physically handle the stress that comes along with imagining my standing under the chuppah with half my family not there.
I cannot imagine being happy and celebrating with my sisters not there. I cannot imagine waking up on the morning of my wedding and having to make a call to America to speak to my sisters on the phone before I hang up and get married while they sit there helpless unable to physically be a part of my day. I cannot focus at work, I cannot focus outside of work either. If I get a break, it’s temporary until the next time I start thinking about my wedding and all the people who are some of the most important people in my life who will not be there.
My family is triply vaccinated. They will quarantine for as long as the law requires. All I ask is that you let them in.