The Hardest Part about Making Aliyah

I came to Israel shortly after finishing university. I was young with very few commitments, still single and looking for a job. And while it was hard being so far away from family, it never seemed to difficult to find a plane ticket when there was a special occasion in the family.

That being said, I was in the U.S. shortly after the birth of 7 of my 9 nieces/nephews. I was at the Shiva of my Grandfather. I celebrated with my Grandmother at her 100th Birthday Party. I flew in for my cousin’s wedding. I got to dance at my youngest brother’s wedding. And my whole family managed to fly in for my eldest niece’s Bat Mitzvah.

But things changed, my family grew, life continued and it wasn’t so easy to pop on over every time there was a reason to celebrate or even when there was a reason to cry. Suddenly the ocean between us seemed much more vast than it had always been and despite all of the technology we have to connect with people around the world, I physically couldn’t be there.

And so this last year, I missed out on the birth of my newest nephew. I wasn’t at the funeral and shiva of my grandmother. I didn’t get the chance to celebrate with my father on his 70th birthday. I couldn’t dance at my cousin’s wedding. And I missed out on my niece’s bat mitzvah.

I truly love living in Israel. I marvel at its beauty every single day. I feel so blessed to live here and feel privileged to raise my family here. Recently, I went with my family to the Old City and we walked to the Kotel for the upsherin of my son (customary hair-cutting ceremony of a 3-year-old Jewish boy), something that my Grandparents would never have dreamed of.

So the bottom line is this: Choosing to live in Israel was one of the best decisions I ever made and I don’t regret it for a second. But my dear parents, grandmother, in-laws, brothers, aunts, uncle, cousins, nephews and nieces, I REALLY miss you!!!

About the Author
Michelle Naftali was born and raised in Jamaica Estates, NY. After finishing University, she came to Israel for a year off before taking the next step in her career. But after spending another year in Israel, she knew she had to stay. So she made Aliyah without any family and started to build her life here. She is a licensed tour guide and has worked with youth groups and tourists from around the world. Along the way, she met her husband who also is a tour guide and guides Spanish speaking groups. Michelle currently works as a Tour Operator for Israel Connection, planning family and group tours to Israel. She lives in Efrat and has two young boys and a newborn daughter.