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May 10, 2006

Why I made aliyah

I have been tagged by WestBankMama over at WestBankBlog for her new quasi meme about why I made aliyah. This is the first time I have been tagged for a meme, so I am just a beginner at this.. give me some leeway. Heck, I do not even know what the word meme even means (in the way we bloggers use the word)!! Dictionary.com defines meme as A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

Anyway, here goes.

Why I made Aliyah. To give an Israeli answer I learned from my kids, I will just say "kacha" (because/that's the way it is). Alas, I was born in the United States of America, so that answer does not work for me.

As kids in my family, we were not raised particularly Zionistic. We were pro-Israel and all that jazz, but we never really spoke about Israel. We were Americans. We never vacationed in Israel (then again, when I was growing up we did not have money for vacationing in Israel), we did not go to Bnei Akiva, we did not participate in yom Ha'Atzmaut parades in town (if they even had them back then). Nothing. We went to school, came home, played baseball, ate hot dogs and baked beans and had a great time and a great childhood, and Israel was never really thought about. We were always religious and went to religious schools (generally the most religious school in whatever city we were living in at the time), and in school Israel was never discussed as well.

I was nearing the completion of my high-school years in Telshe Yeshiva and I was considering what I would do the coming year. I knew I had no intention of staying in Telshe for "Bais Medrash" (post high school learning), though that is what most graduates of telshe do for a couple of years before moving elsewhere. I wanted to leave Telshe (though I enjoyed my time there and have nothing but good memories and gratitude for my time there) - it was time for a change. I was looking at potential schools and yeshivas, Ner Yisrael in Baltimore being the leading candidate. I wanted to go to college and they offered what looked like the best combo of learning and college at the time.

As the school year was nearing its completion, Reb Tzvi Kushelevsky was on his yearly fundraising trip to America. He was in Chicago and happened to spend shabbos in my neighborhood by a friends house who was learning in his yeshiva. This was unusual because he usually spent his stay in Chicago by some distant relative in a different neighborhood. He davened in my shul and spoke at some point. Israel was not even in the picture at the time. I had not even thought about going to Israel. Telshe graduates did not go to israel. Period. It was not done until about the age of 22 or so when Brisk was the common yeshiva of choice.

As Reb Tzvi K finished his drasha, my father leans over to me and says, "Why don't you ask him to take a test for his yeshiva?" I said, "Dad, are you crazy? I am not going to Israel. I want to go to Baltimore and start college!". he said just take a test and you can decide later. I figured why not so we spoke to ym friend who arranged an appointment with the Rosh Yeshiva for a test that motzei Shabbos in his house. He did not tell me what I would be tested on, rather he told me to call at 8:00 (I think) and come at 10:00 for the test and at 8 he would tell me what to prepare. No problem. I thought the whole thing was ridiculous, as I had no plans on going there, but the yeshiva had a very good reputation and I "played along".

To make an even longer story shorter, I got accepted (somehow) to the yeshiva and after much deliberation and consultation decided to go there. Basically it was a fluke of nature, a complete "coincidence" that I ended up going to Israel (though we all know there is no such thing as a coincidence).

When I was in Israel, I took an immediate liking to the country. I travelled it whenever I could. Every vacation I went all over with friends on any tiyul I could arrange or find out about. I hiked up and down the Golan a few times, along with Ein Gedi and many places in between. From the Hermon to Eilat, I found my chance to go (often with friends from other yeshivas), many times in covert fashion, as the yeshiva would not have approved of either the location or the company I was with.. :-)

In addition to tiyulim, I made friends with the Israelis in the yeshiva and would go to their houses for shabbos. I went all over the country to spend shabbos with family friends or yeshiva friends. It was always exciting going to a place I had never been to before..

After my year in Israel was over, I was torn what to do about next year. I felt it was time to go home and start college, but I was having a great time in Israel and wanted to go back for more (BTW, I learned also. This sounds like I spent all my time travelling and never learning, but is not correct. I learned as well, and plenty. It was a tough yeshiva and everybody had to work hard to keep up. I am just not writing about that here.) After much deliberation, a few days before summer vacation was over I decided to go back to Israel. My father was ok with that (if I remember correctly, is that right Dad?) and we made the arrangements.

Second year (shana bet in the American yeshiva term) was more of the same and eventually Shana gimmel was more of the same. During Shana Bet I already started keeping one and a half day yom tov, a creation that most people still do not understand. In my third year I decided that was it I was staying. I loved it in Israel and this is where I was meant to be. During my fourth year in yeshiva I got engaged and married and we moved right back to Israel where we have been ever since.

Over the years since then, some people at various times have attempted to convince us to move back to the US (never our parents, and I thank them for that - both my parents and my in-laws were always supportive of our choosing to live in Israel), either because of the Gulf War or terrorism or economy, etc. The thought to even consider it never entered my mind. This is our home and this is where we belong. Our fates are tied to the fates of Israel.

Basically, I ended up in Israel by a coincidence, but I stayed because I developed a love for the land, the country and the people. I got a feeling being in Israel that I am part of everythign that happens. people here care so much about every little thing. In America everyone is just living their life trying to get by hoping nobody gets in their way. You are not really part of something. Here, we are making history. We are part of something bigger than our personal lives, for good or for bad. Every day something historic happens here and I am part of it. This is where the jew is meant to be.


I am tagging Jameel to tell us why he made aliyah, if he is so inclined... Jameel - send the link to westbankmama for her roundup..


  1. Wow, the fastest poster in the East! I will put this into my roundup on May 31. Thanks for the quick response.

  2. Rafi- make sure you're sitting for this:

    1. I never made an aliyah! I live in the very chol USA.

    2. I am not a he. You're dealing with a female here!

    Does that make you want to retract the tag now? :)

  3. mama - hope it is satisfactory

  4. Haaretz - 1. and 2.: I was not sure about either point. Before I tagged you I looked back at some of your archives to try to get a feel for where (and what gender) you are. Gender I could not tell frm my quick scan, but location looked like eretz. Oh well, I guess I have to retract, just because Mama's meme is why I made aliyah, and you did not (yet)... unless of course you want to post about why you have not yet made aliyah.. :-)

  5. LOL, I happy to see that my writing gives off an 'eretz' state of mind!

    About my gender, this could have been a hint: my icon is a woman in long hair and a skirt :)

    p.s. I can't believe you took down the tag :( that's like winning the lottery and then being told that it was a mistake and you have to give the prize back. Oh well, next time.

    Great post btw.

  6. When you live in Galut, you observe Jewish history - when you live in Israel you are a part of Jewish history.

  7. I could have written this post, though the yeshiva names are different, and I actually did make it to Baltimore before ending up in Israel.

  8. I wonder how many people just fall into things, the way I do (and you I guess)..

  9. noone 'falls' into things. you didn't land up in israel 'by coincidence'.

    but ahhh, what a joy-i love aliyah folks and their stories :)

  10. sabra - that is why conincidence was in quotation marks - it seemed like a coincidence, but as we all know it never is..


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