Not long ago, a good friend of mine from the US decided to make Aliyah. This huge step made me think, what would motivate someone to make such a dramatic change in his life? Why would an MIT graduate, who can stay in the US and live a very happy, wealthy and comfortable life, want to move to Israel? As a Jew and an Israeli who loves his country, I’m not sure I would have done the same if I was in a similar situation.
After thinking about it a little bit, I actually had more questions than answers so I decided to simply ask her. Although it was not a very easy task (she screened me twice and ignored three emails I sent) I managed to get some answers which to my opinion can be very interesting for every Jew, both Israeli and Diaspora.
The first and most obvious question was, why the, in the name of god, did you make Aliyah?? The answer might be obvious for a Jew in the Diaspora and cheesy to the one in Israel, but definitely brings up questions regarding what it means to be Jewish in the Diaspora but moreover, what it means to be Jewish in general:
“There is no other country in the world where a Jew can feel completely at home and comfortable with himself. While I may have to explain to Israelis that I keep kosher, I do not have to explain why. I do not have to justify the need to take Erev Chag (evening of a holiday) off from work to prepare for the holiday. In short, since youth, the importance of Israel has been ingrained in me. I can’t see myself getting up in the morning, looking in the mirror and being ok with living anywhere else. For thousands of years, Jews fought, died and longed to live here. We can now hop on a plane and make the move.”
After getting the general idea, I wanted to know what the hardest aspect of this move was:
“Having my family back in the US is definitely the hardest. I miss my childhood friends. I am envious of Israelis who get to go back home (or at least have the choice) every Shabbat and eat with those closest to them. Of those girls who get to sit with their mothers and sisters in Beit Kenneset (synagogue). I can only watch nieces and nephews get older with pictures. I also just miss the relatively cheap but good quality shopping in America. The cereal selection is also great on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I can’t wait to have myself a giant bowl of captain crunch and fruity pebbles!”
My first reaction to this answer was, “how girly of you. Shopping in the US?!?” After thinking about it for a little, her answer made me admire her for what she had left behind to fulfill her dream. When I’m in Israel, I see my childhood friends frequently, I see my family few times a week and my two brothers are my two best friends. I can’t think of anything that will make me give up those relationships.
Reading the last answer again made me wonder what can be so good about making Aliyah? She couldn’t be clearer:
“I live in Israel. There is nothing more to say. This is our country. That, and that I get to say to those people who never believed I’d do it: “f you. I followed my dreams. I also get to encourage others to make the move and similarly help them as I got helped.”
Why do Israelis (Sabras, to be specific) feel less proud of their country then? To encourage myself, I asked what is the best thing about us Israelis?
“Where else do people stop in a car to ask others at a bus stop if they can give them a ride?! Where else does the cashier at the supermarket wish you a Shabbat Shalom? Where the streets get quiet on a Saturday? Where an entire country on Yom Hashoah mourns the loss of 6 million Jews or on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day) celebrate that we have Israel as ours”.
I admit that I took for granted the fact that the cashier lady says Shabbat Shalom. I do miss it here in Boston.
After contemplating the good things about being an Israeli and living in Israel, it was time to for me to face what I consider to be some negative ones:
“You guys are at times rude, blunt and insensitive bastards. You can also be incredibly inefficient, bureaucratic and irrational. You also do not understand why people make Aliyah and only wish to live somewhere else. You do not appreciate what we have and are so willingly ready to give up our land (not politically wise). On a lighter note, I will never get over having to wake up early on a Sunday morning and go to work”.
So maybe Israel for Israelis is like a girl to a boy? After all the hustle and the hard work in the beginning, we just get used to what we have at home and take our love for granted?
Well, I think that I got the general idea and actually learned quite a bit. The answer to my last question was the shortest but the best of all. “My dear friend” I asked, “anything you want to add regarding what we spoke about?” “yes” she said, “come back to Israel already. Boston is an amazing city. But come home”.