‘Tis The (Aliyah) Season

In honor of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Rabbi Avi and Dr. Shulamis Pollak, who are making Aliyah today with their five children (ages 1-10) and dog, Lila.

It is boiling hot…it is summer in Israel..it is Aliyah Season!

The perennial question: Aliyah: When to do it — should you just jump in and come young, or should you plan every detail with thought, debate and follow-up arrangements — even if this will delay your Aliyah to well into your fourth decade? And as the Aliyah flight from North America last week demonstrates, there is no definitive answer. Contrast the 127 young single Olim determined to follow their plans to join the IDF immediately with the other 224 Olim, whose families, ages, number of children, professions and degrees varied.

The arguments for coming young are very solid. Serving in the IDF offers unparalleled absorption into Israeli society and is also often helpful beyond the social sphere (professional etc.). Studying in universities or colleges here offers advantages similar as the IDF. Young Adult Aliyah allows for greater flexibility in choosing where to live. An obvious downside is that one is likely not to have saved much money.

Others will argue: Come prepared. Make each trip to Israel a Pilot Trip focused on expanding on one’s professional network. Carefully research the community you will live in. Gain relevant work experience. Save a few bucks (and then some). Be on the same wave-length as your spouse. Make sure (older) kids are as excited and prepared as you are. Learn Ivrit. The downside is that often life gets in the way and as the years pass, many people’s plans change. And some cancel their Aliyah indefinitely.

So, which is it?

As is often the case and as our Rabbis so eloquently said, ‘Elu V’Elu Divrei Elokim Chaim’ — both are the Word of The Lord, hence both are legitimate.

Either way – come now or, at least, have a plan. And stick to it!

Anecdote: A month ago, as a result of Sherman Hemsley’s death (he played Mr. Jefferson on the TV show “The Jeffersons”), I started cleaning our house — an unprecedented activity. I was determined to find his autograph which I have held on to for the last 15 years. The house is a lot cleaner now and though I never found the autograph, I did find a fax (on old fax paper) from my brother-in-law asking for my help in finding professional contacts, so that he could begin to network professionally in Israel and possibly secure a summer internship.

The barely legible fax was sent in February 1995. He is making Aliyah TODAY, August 21, 2012. Seventeen and a half years later.

Welcome Home, Bro! (and family)

The author was privileged to work for Tehilla – The Aliyah Movement – for 15 years and helped tens of thousands of people actualize their Aliyah dreams. He is currently the Resource Development Director at Yeshivat Hesder Holon.