This Sunday, the 15th of Tammuz corresponding to the 27th of June, will mark our one year anniversary of our Aliya.
One year…in the blink of an eye, a year has now passed since we stepped off the Nefesh B’Nefesh / El Al flight last summer. We boarded the plane as citizens of the United States on Monday and landed on Tuesday as citizens of the State of Israel. Just like that…our lifelong dream became a reality. Well, it wasn’t exactly “just like that.” But, as I sit here and reflect on “the year that was, “I am filled with awe, gratitude, admiration and joy. And if I think back to the first few days we lived here, it seems like a lifetime ago because I feel like we have lived here for twenty years!
Allow me to preface this with a disclaimer: I know that while we did indeed have some ups and downs along the way, our experience of our Aliya and Klita was not the norm. Our journey until this point has been very little in the way of problems, issues and crises and lots in the way of things going RIGHT most of the time. Only one way to explain that: Hashem has been incredibly wonderful to us…a fact that we do NOT take for granted.
What seemed in the beginning like a snake path that only the initiated would be permitted to know, we finally figured out our way from the entrance to Maale Adumim to our home in Mitzpe Nevo. Very quickly, and truthfully not long after we moved, when I thought of the word “home” I thought of Maale Adumim and not Chicago. I had actually wondered how long it would take me to stop thinking of the house in Chicago as “home.” It actually happened very fast.
Boxes…boxes…boxes! Everywhere I looked after the delivery of our lift I saw boxes and other packing materials. How in the world were we EVER going to get everything unpacked and set up shop?! Would we have enough room for everything we had brought? How would we know where to buy certain supplies and groceries etc etc etc?!?
In step our new-found friends who were there at every turn with advice, a good word and helping hands. I can not imagine having gone through the first few months here without the support and help of SO many people in Mitzpe Nevo! How would we ever be able to repay them all? When I said this to one of our friends, he suggested that the best way to “repay” THEM was to do in kind for the new Olim that will come this summer. Great idea and one that I will act upon, Bezrat Hashem!
Work…find a job…parnassa…Yes, earning a living would indeed be something I would call a priority and BH, I was able to find work very fast doing something I truly enjoy…working in the tourism industry bringing people to Israel. My daughters and my wife all have adjusted so well here and SO love this country and our community. We could not have ordered a better group of neighbors with whom to share our building and we could not have picked a better neighborhood!
A year later, I reflect back and I am filled with awe at all our family was able to accomplish in such a short time. I no longer feel like an outsider looking in at Jewish History in the making. I feel like a part of the process and like someone who can make a difference merely by living out my dream.
Chicago…home for me for nearly 50 years…home to ALL of my immediate family and home to SO many friends of mine/our’s. I will always have special feelings for Chicago. It is a magnificent city with wonderful people. (I REALLY like Mayor Daley and Chicago politics!) I miss my family but am heartened by the knowledge that they are so happy for us. Thanks to modern technology, we see each other often on Skype—an ISRAELI invention) and talk on the phone nearly every single day. Yet, in spite of all of these good feelings I have and truly close feelings I have to the community in Chicago, I wouldn’t trade my life HERE for anywhere else…not for a million dollars (roughly 3, 810,000 shekel at today’s exchange rate!)
With one year now behind us and B’ezrat Hashem many years ahead of us, I can only hope and pray that we will continue to live a life filled with joy and happiness and health. While it is NOT realistic to expect everything to be good and to never have any setbacks and to never know sorrow and pain…I CAN daven that these things will be few and far between.
I am eternally grateful to Hashem and to my family for enabling me to realize my lifelong dream of hearing the call from Hashem to live in HIS land. Those of you reading this who may be thinking, “I wish that was ME,” can do more than just “wish.” You can take steps to make that dream come true…I am living proof of this.
May Hashem watch over us and all of the other Olim who are coming up on their one year anniversary as well. We ALL have a long road ahead of us, but with the help of Hashem, one day, we will become fully integrated members of society, here in Eretz Yisrael.