Love in the time of aliyah

Love, it seems to me, is the greater aspect of aliyah.

Two years ago today I arrived in Israel as an oleh chadash. In those two years, only one thing is obvious: love. Sure, many of us come because of our love for the land. We come for love of our people. That’s not what I’m talking about. That’s a gift we bring to the land.

Some come for romantic love, attaching their lives to new or soon-to-be life partners. Others come for family love, following children or parents or siblings who came before. That’s not what I’m talking about either. That’s a gift you give to yourself.

The gift the land gives to us, in return for making our lives here, is a different understanding of love.

There’s no rational way to describe it. Love has a richer flavor and many more hues. It’s more tangible, more real, it holds more truth. Love becomes both a sensation and a sense – like taste and sight – a way of perceiving and apprehending the world. It’s amazing how many people say that they feel, in their bodies, when they’re gone too long.

Perhaps it’s because life is such a struggle here. Or perhaps the soul of the land attaches itself to each of us. All I know is that Israel has taught me how to see with new eyes and how to listen with a new heart.

What I want to say to you is this: Come. Come home.

To you who are so far away: We need your strength, your wisdom and your heart. Here. Right here in the land of our people.

To you who came before: thank you. Thank you for building the roads and the businesses, thank you for struggling to create a new society at a desert crossroad, thank you for defending our homeland.

To the hundreds of people, quite literally hundreds, who’ve offered help, support, guidance and friendship: you’ve given me gifts beyond my imagination. You’ve given me a new life. You’ve shown me love.

This mediation on aliyah has a dreamlike quality. It’s based on our custom of gathering tzitzit before saying the Shema. I wrote it as my personal dream of aliyah began to unfold. Here’s a link to other prayers for and about Israel, including meditations on the land and prayers for the IDF, lone soldiers and new enlists.

Gathering: A Dream of Reunion

והביאנו לשלום מארבע כנפות הארץ
ותוליכנו קוממיות לארצנו

Bring us in peace from the four corners of the earth
And lead us upright to our land…

First Tzitzit – Gathering fringes
The first knotted string in hand,
I imagine the journey home,
Home to the land of our mothers and fathers,
Holy and full of promise, labor and love,
To build a life of wonder and awe.
This is me.
This is my pilgrimage to sacred soil.
This is my dream of holiness and redemption.
I am the first tzitzit.
I am returning home.

Second Tzitzit – Gathering hearts
The second fraying string in hand,
I imagine my children, my family, my household
Returning with me to our homeland
To build and to renew our ancestral blood.
This is my family.
This is our journey to hallowed ground.
This is our wholeness and rebirth.
We are the second tzitzit.
We are returning home.

Third Tzitzit – Gathering moments
The third worn string in hand,
I imagine you, my community, my kahal,
Returning together to our Source and Shelter,
To consecrate the ancient land and our holy vow.
This is my village.
This is our journey to mystery and majesty.
This is our bond of ages.
We are the third tzitzit.
We are returning home.

Final Tzitzit – Gathering millennia
The final woolen string in hand,
I imagine all of us, from all corners of the Earth,
Returning with songs of praise and rejoicing,
To claim our place among the nation of Israel.
This is my people.
This is our journey of destiny.
This is our covenant.
We are the final tzitzit, separate no more.
We are returning home.

Gathering: A Dream of Reunion” is © 2011 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

About the Author
Alden Solovy is a liturgist, poet, and educator. His teaching spans from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem to Limmud UK and synagogues throughout North America. He's the author of “This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day” and has written more than 750 pieces of new liturgy. His new book, "This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings," was published in 2019. He made aliyah in 2012. Read his work at