The Aliyah Diaries: T minus 4 weeks…
The 4th of July passed without much notice in our household last week. Maybe it was because it fell out on Shabbat, hence nixing any barbecue plans. Maybe it was because budget cuts forced our local fireworks to call it off this year. Maybe it was because – as always – Americans seem to be much more into the sales at local department stores than any real meaning in a holiday. Or maybe it was because we already feel like we have one foot on the other side of the pond.
I’m a big planner. My husband and I have been planning our aliyah for the past nine years. We started off by making a commitment to move within a certain number of years – and we stuck to it. Our big fear was being one of those well meaning couples who say they’re working on a “two year plan” – and never actually move. We picked something realistic (and very far off at the time) – we said we’d move within eight to ten years. Our rationale for not making aliyah as soon as we got married was this: Making aliyah is hard. I know many families who have made the big move and then after a year or two or three, found for one reason or another that they just couldn’t pull it off, or that Israel really wasn’t for them. And they went back to America. And so we planned.
We wanted to do everything within our power to sew up our loose ends in America. We wanted to finish our degrees here, knowing it would be harder to do that in Israel, and we started our careers here. But we also tried really hard not to put down roots. We never invested money in furniture, or in a house that we would find difficult to leave. We involved ourselves in the community, but always with a feeling that everything was temporary. And we talked about moving to Israel constantly – even when it was years away. We did this not only to give our relatives lots of time for the idea to sink in, but also so that it remained in the forefront of our mind.
A few months ago, we announced to our friends and family that we were moving to Israel this summer. Many were surprised, and asked us, “Isn’t that, like, two years away?” The passage of time surprised us to some degree as well, and not all of our plans (okay, a lot of our plans) have not gone exactly as we had hoped. But here we are, exactly four weeks away from getting on a plane and starting over in Israel.
America has been great. This country has provided our family with tremendous opportunity. But somehow it is not and has never been really home for us. In some ways, I feel as if our whole lives up to this point have been the prologue of a really complicated story – the preparation, the foundation, the build-up. But now we stand at this crossroads. And I am ready to turn the page and start Chapter 1 of the story. In Israel.