Just about a year ago, Hubby and I decided to pick up with our five children and move from our comfortable home in Monsey, New York to a cottage in Israel, a place where we would all have to learn the language and culture, a place where we would be immigrants, just like my parents had been in the USA. People are still asking me why.
Why move to Israel?
When people ask me “why”, they’re really asking “Isn’t it hard? Why do it if it’s so hard?” I confess this is not my own observation. It was made by one of the most funny and fascinating rabbis on the planet, Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky, but I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Almost everyone who moves to Israel is asked this question sooner or later. Your visiting friends, relatives, parents are aghast that life in Israel is so challenging. It can be simple stuff – like getting used to different paper towels, tissues and toilet paper, learning to live with Israeli milk bags (in pitchers!), bagging your own groceries at the supermarket – or real issues like, housing in quarters less than half the size of what you had in the States, the suffocating heat of a chamsin in the summer, nuclear threats from our Arab cousins. Every oleh can provide a long, personalized list, I assure you.
In my case, leaving my birthplace (which was actually Philly), my parents (my mom visits a lot), my old friends (hi Atara and Simcha Rus), my favorite coffee shop (shout out to Purple Pear), everything familiar, to live in Israel was the natural destination of my personal spiritual trajectory. I had gone from one level of Jewish living to the next; then suddenly I was gripped by the awareness that it’s all very nice to build lovely Jewish communities in outposts all over the world, but that Israel’s gates now are open to us. After two thousand years, we can go home! How can we turn our backs on that? So it seemed kinda natural to just pick up and come to the Holy Land – not expecting it to be easy, and alert to the challenges that lay ahead. Yet it was a monumental thing to do, a historic act. And I’m all into doing things that make a difference. Truth is it’s most probably an eternal difference.
And yes, it’s hard. Very hard. Can’t deny it. Nu? What’s so terrible about that? If you look back on life, you’ll notice that just about everything worth doing is hard. Marriage is hard. Childbirth is hard (but not as hard as raising children). Pesach preparation is hard. Learning to cook is hard. Writing cookbooks is hard (even though it looks like fun.) Reinventing yourself in a new country is hard.
But the result is a life that’s rich in purpose, a life that actually moves in a consistent direction. It’s a life that’s aware, precisely because the choices were hard and you had to grow into them. I’m not saying my choices are right for anybody else. They’re right for me. And as long as I can stay true to myself, I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror every morning and know that I’ll never have to look back with regret.
In case you missed the last episode of JoyofAliyah (or just want to see it again) watch it here:
And for no other reason that the fact that this reflective post was written around one of the holiest days on our calendar, here is my Quick & Kosher post Yom Kippur menu. Easy Fast and G’Mar Chatima Tova!