Why I’m making Aliyah
In a few short months, we – my husband Baruch and our three kids – will pack up and move to Israel. Most people who know us well don’t ask us why we are moving – maybe because they have an idea about our reasons, or maybe because they’re tired of hearing us talking about wanting to move for years – but every once in a while, someone does ask me. Why do we want to move to Israel? Why would you pick up, uproot your family and move halfway around the world? Why would you want to leave America? The simple answer is that we are Zionists – we believe strongly in Israel, identify with Israel and want to live there. But there are many parts to a longer answer. Sometimes I delve into the many factors involved with our decision – there are obvious issues like religion – we feel a connection with the history and symbolism found in the country. There are financial issues – we want to send our kids to day school, and with tuition these days it makes much more sense to send our kids to day school in Israel, which is basically free. There are cultural attractions – like the amount of independence and freedom that children in Israel grow up having, especially in small communities. There are also things that I can’t quite put my finger on –like how I feel when I’m in Israel, like the feeling of being home.
Lately, I’ve realized that there is an uglier side to why we are moving. What I mean is that the reasons I listed before are more “fluffy” if you will – but there is a less attractive reason that, for some reason, pulls me more than ever towards the idea of making aliyah. Israel has problems. Lots of them. There are poverty issues, drug problems and there are no Sundays. There is political upheaval and corruption every other year. There is the problem of the ultra-orthodox monopoly on life-cycle issues and there is the problem that different groups of Jews won’t sit at the same table to come up with a solution. There are populations that are underserved and ignored. There are serious pollution issues that have been ignored because the country needs to focus on survival. There’s a real threat to Israel’s right to exist by a good portion of the Middle East, and there continues to be a lack of a clear direction on the peace process. Israel’s education system needs real change and one group of teachers is always going on strike… One group of any profession always seems to be on strike for that matter. And Israeli drivers are really as bad as people say they are…
The bottom line is that Israel means too much to me to let other people fix these problems. I want to be involved. I need to be a part of something more. Going to rallies in New York or sending my annual contribution is enough for some people to show their support for Israel. Coming to visit Israel once every few years on a tour or solidarity trip to show my support for those who live there is also nice. But it stopped being enough for me a long time ago. So what if we need to make changes in our lifestyle or challenge ourselves and our children to adapt to a different society. If we can be a part of change for the better – even a drop in the bucket – I feel we will have contributed to the betterment and continuation of Israel. And to that end maybe it does come back to the simple answer: I believe in the Zionist dream – that this is our land, and we need to be a part of the future of Israel.