Preparing for Aliyah

I am planning to make Aliyah in the Spring. There are three steps to making Aliyah. Step 1: Fill out the application. Step 2: Meet with the Jewish Agency. Step 3: Wait for approval. There are a few more steps if you plan on actually moving to Israel. But my situation is more nuanced. So I just have these three steps.

I have finished step 1 and am scheduled to have my meeting with the Jewish Agency this month. There are a few hoops that you have to jump through to complete step 1. Besides providing all the expected information like name, address, birth certificate, parent information, and what type of animal you would be if you could be any animal, I have to provide all the documentation regarding my first marriage.  I am 48 and have 3 children from a previous marriage, one of whom is under 18. I had to provide a copy of the divorce agreement with an original stamp from the circuit court and then send it to the state capital for an Apostile certificate. I didn’t know what that meant but I Googled it and learned that Apostile means $25 in Greek. I had to have a notarized agreement from my ex-wife that said she knew I was leaving. I had to have a separate notarized agreement that she knew I was not kidnapping our 15 year old son.

Then I have to go through the business of proving that I am a Jew all over again. This time I am bringing my bris certificate. Just in case they want to check.

Original bris Certificate

But I don’t mind the application process. I am really excited about making Aliyah; even if I am doing it in slow motion. As cliché as this is, I decided to make Aliyah when I was a teenager and read “Exodus” by Leon Uris. I decided to delay my Aliyah until after college when I read “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer and got scared to death of entering the army. My Aliyah got delayed even longer as I got married and started producing offspring. Things started moving forward again after the offspring started to leave the nest and the nest collapsed in divorce.

I am building a new nest in Haifa but only make visits. My son and my business keep me in Florida most of the time. I am in Israel about 4 months a year and I don’t have to make Aliyah. I can keep coming as a tourist for as long as I want. I made a list of all the pluses and minuses of making Aliyah and the list comes out against it. Except for one item:

I don’t want to be a tourist. I want to be Israeli.

I am not a naïve Jewish American who thinks Israel is perfect. I know the real Israel. I can walk outside and see the dog poop on the sidewalk that nobody bothered to pick up. But I can also see the sunset over the Mediterranean. I see people who are tired of having to work so hard and cope with missiles from jihadists and just want to escape from here. But I also meet people who believe that they can build something miraculous here and devote their lives and energies to that Utopian ideal.

I want to help.

I love this country. I love its natural beauty and I love its history. I love being able to hike in the mountains of the Carmel forest and imagine that Elijah was here almost 3000 years ago. I love climbing alongside a waterfall in the Golan and coming upon the ruins of an ancient Jewish village from 2000 years ago. I love Jerusalem. But more than the country, I love the people.

Gilabon Falls near Ruins of Kfar Devorah


Here in Israel I feel at home. I meet people from Russia, Argentina, Romania, Iraq, and on and on and they are all my family. We all came to Israel for one reason. We are all Jews. And we don’t agree on anything.

I can’t wait for my appointment with the Jewish Agency. I can’t wait to be an Israeli citizen so I can complain about the government. At the beginning, I will only be a commuter Israeli. But in a few years, when my son graduates from high school, I will be a permanent Israeli. Aliyah in slow motion. It started with a teenager’s dream over 30 years ago. Soon it will be a reality. And once I am here, I know I can help. I know how to pick up dog poop.

About the Author
David Brent is a NASA engineer with a master's and bachelor's from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology turned candy entrepreneur. He made aliya in the spring of 2013. David commutes between Israel, where his heart is, and Florida, where his business is.