Memories of a Lifetime: Making Aliyah at 24 Years Old

Today I woke up in San Francisco, wishing that I was still in Israel.

As my eyes scan my Facebook news feed, all I see are the photos of my friends in the Holy Land, enjoying the last days of summer on the Tel Aviv beaches, or partaking in outdoor picnics with friends and family in Hayarkon Park. I’m overcome with emotion as I examine these lovely photos, and can only think about the days in which I was there too.

“It’s only natural,” my friend said, “to reflect on the past.”

This is true. I’ve been remembering the past for almost 2 months now, the time which I have spent living in San Francisco after moving away from Tel Aviv. It is now that I truly understand the impact of making Aliyah. I was 24 years old when I immigrated to Israel alone – one of the bravest and boldest decisions I have ever made, and the best thing that I could have ever done for myself.

Now, as I sit inside my tiny San Francisco studio-apartment, I can only reflect upon the memories which I made in Israel and the lessons that I learned there which have helped shaped me into the woman I have become today.

Thank you Israel for:

Allowing me to discover my true self

I must admit, I made Aliyah during a time in my life when I did not know much about myself or what I was searching for. I only knew that I was looking for something which could only be found in Israel.

After going on a Birthright trip with my university and spending 6 months living in Tel Aviv on an internship program, I was sure that I wanted to make Aliyah and live in Israel for an extended period of time.

I can still remember the look in my internship leader’s eyes as I told him I wanted to make Aliyah after the program ended. His green eyes became glassy and a proud smile engulfed his round face. “Israel needs you,” he said. I will never forget these words.

Funny thing is, I needed Israel as much as Israel needed me. I was 24 years old and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I just knew that I wanted to be surrounded by the beautiful Israeli land, culture and people again.

The strong sense of belonging and caring nature of the Israeli people made my Aliyah transition even easier and I felt like I was at home, yet I was actually miles away from my own family. During this time however, I learned more about myself than I had in the past 24 years of growing up in America.

Life Lessons

Living in Israel has taught me how to cherish those around me, how to select life-long friends (who I still have today), how to fall in love and be loved in return, how to eat healthy, how to live an active lifestyle, how to start a career, how to take chances, how to never hold back on anything, how to be passionate about life and how to look inside one’s self in order to discover who you really are.

I could continue to elaborate on this list until these virtual pages become entirely filled with a sea of words, yet for now these thoughts will remain inside my own mind. I will save these memories for a book one day, an entire memoir dedicated to the experiences I had in Israel as a young woman searching for her true self.

In the meantime, I can only say that I was able to leave Israel with everlasting thoughts and memories which still appear in my nightly dreams. The decision to make Aliyah was hard, yet the choice to leave Israel was even harder. Knowing that my Israeli citizenship is permanent leaves me with the comfort of the option to return whenever I feel like the time is right. With this in mind, I am able to carry on peacefully, knowing that Israel will always be my true home in the end.

About the Author
Rachel made Aliyah at the age of 24. She moved to Tel Aviv from Dallas, Texas by herself, after falling in love with the country on a birthright trip. Rachel currently lives in San Francisco where she works as a content marketing consultant and a blogger for The Huffington Post. Follow Rachel on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook to stay up to date with her most recent blog posts and articles.
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