Reality Check: Aliyah is Hard

I have been in love with Israel for as long as I can remember. I lived for summer trips here, found ways to visit as often as I could, and spent my time in America reading about Israel and advocating on Israel’s behalf. During a graduate semester abroad I made the decision to make aliyah and stay here to finish my degree. Everything went smoothly – I found an Israeli boyfriend, a great apartment, a flexible job – I even got a puppy. Living the aliyah dream.

Except now it’s the aliyah reality, which isn’t always great. Some of my problems are the typical pains that I imagine others have when they drastically change their environment, particularly by moving overseas. I don’t know the language. I don’t have many friends here, and am lonely. I miss my family. But others are unique to Israel, and those are the hardest ones.

I came here out of Zionist motivation and a lifelong passion for Israel. I wanted to contribute in a real, meaningful way to the ongoing development of the Jewish State. I wanted to take advantage of living in one of the first generations to have the modern State of Israel, and be here to live out my Zionist dreams.

What I forgot about was that Zionist dreams give way to realities, and my passion was buried under the dreariness of real life, coupled with homesickness for my American life.

The hardest thing to do is admit the problems of aliyah. It’s hard because I’m not just living out my dream, but those of so many of my friends and family members as well. It’s unbelievable to them that it isn’t all falafel, days at the beach, and amusing interactions with Israelis. It’s real life, and it’s hard, and I can’t rely on my usual support system to understand. I know I’m lucky to be living out a lifelong dream of mine. But coming to terms with waking up from the dream is hard work, and I hope it’ll just take some more time.

About the Author
Samantha Vinokor is the Director of Marketing and Recruitment for Budokan Israel, a Masa program specializing in Martial Arts and Fitness. She is also pursuing a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Samantha is a recent olah chadasha. More about her freelance work, experiential education initiatives, and blogging can be found at
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