My relatives fulfilled a dream! This Passover, while Jews around the world say “Next Year in Jerusalem”, my family members will have already fulfilled that dream. In Hebrew it is called ‘aliyah’, or moving UP. Because Israel is the place of “high” where Jews are supposed to be, in our Jewish homeland.
Can you see how excited we are to greet them?
Moving to Israel from a foreign country is not easy. Even though Jews are the indigenous population of Israel (hence we are Jews from the land of Judea), thousands of years of exile have taken their toll. For someone who grows up in a different country, they feel a natural connection and cultural identification with that country. So it is not simple for an American Jew, a British Jew, an Indian Jew, an Ethiopian Jew etc. to move home to Israel. There is always a part of us that feels more comfortable in the society where we grew up.
When my parents moved my family to Israel back in 1990 it was not easy. My mother left behind her father, step-mother and sisters, my father left behind his mother and sister, and me and my siblings left behind a warm family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and tons of cousins. We didn’t leave them because anything was bad, we were just finally fulfilling the Jewish dream to move back home.
At one point upon arriving in Israel I remember having a conversation with my mother. She was going through a hard time being apart from her sisters, whom she was extremely close with. I remember telling her that even though it is hard now, one day our family will come join us in Israel, one person at a time. While at 1990 not many American Jews were making aliyah, thanks to us making the move, we are making it more real for all of our family and friends to consider joining us one day.
It is Happening!
The video above is my mother’s first sister moving and joining us here in Israel. Yet she is not alone. She is joining two of her children, with their wives and four grandchildren, who already live here.
This is in addition to three other nephews, their spouses and a total of six other children.
As you can see, our family presence in Israel has grown tremendously and there are still more on the way, they are just not here yet.
We are part of the Redemption
We are just one Jewish family, of many, who are fulfilling the Jewish dream of returning to live in our ancestral homeland. The move is not an easy one, but it is the right one. Only in Israel can a Jew be a full Jew, with a surrounding Jewish culture that permeates our daily lives.
Yes, one can live as a Jew in many places around the world. But, only in Israel are the State holidays Jewish. Only in Israel are school vacations based on Jewish holidays. Only in Israel is the public sphere across the country filled with the celebrations and customs that are part of our Jewish identity. One of many ways we see that we are home where we belong.
We are Blessed
I remind myself every day never to take any of this for granted. We are blessed to live in the best generation ever to be a Jew. Our people now live in our ancestral homeland, with our own army to defend ourselves. This has been elusive to the Jewish people for thousands of years. We are home.
No matter what hardships we face, and we face many, internal and external, we can never take this for granted and we always must be thankful.
Many Jews think that by moving to Israel they have fulfilled the end of their journey. They finally made it home. However, the truth is very different. Coming to Israel is just the beginning of their journey, the journey that we as a people are destined for. It is up to us to work hard, overcome the challenges, and make Israel a country that is a light unto the nations. Much is happening that already makes Israel such a nation, but there is still much, much more for us to do.
So when one makes aliyah, the right perspective is to understand that coming here is the beginning of their exciting journey. The journey of building up on our nation for the benefit of ourselves and all of humanity.
If you are Jewish and you are not here yet, be inspired to start making plans to come home. Join us on the journey that our generation has been blessed to partake in.