Friday, August 20, 2010

Barukh HaShem: Our Eighteenth Year in Israel

Seventeen years ago yesterday, we had the zekhut to make Aliyah. After years of planning, longing, scrimping and saving; we were able to undo the historic wrong when (for various and sundry reasons) my family left Eretz Yisrael and settled in New England.

Yesterday, Nefesh b'Nefesh brought yet another planeload of olim, and I found myself thinking about an early scene in the movie Exodus. Lee J. Cobb (the quasi-Ben Gurion character) greets new immigrants to Gan Dafna and describes how when he and his brother came to Eretz Yisrael there were no little cakes, no bands, only mosquitoes the size of horses.

When we made Aliyah, we were met by a little Old Lady from AACI, who told us to come make an appointment with a counselor, and disappeared, leaving us to the tender mercies of Misrad ha-Qelitah (and, later, to Misrad ha-Penim. To this day, in our family, if you want to tell someone where to go, you say: לך למשרד הפנים!). Essentially, we made Aliyah with the help of God and a lot of support and advice by friends (especially Israeli friends, always ask Israelis. Eventually, you'll come close to the answer to the perpetual question: How do Israelis do it?)

Anyway, no one gave us our Teudot Zehut on our arrival. There were no massive crowds or dignitaries. We were, in fact, the only US Olim on our flight (or that week or that month, from what I can tell). We lived through wars and strikes and terror attacks. We raised our five children to be proud, God fearing Jews, in the Land God gave to His People. It has been a tremendous challenge. It has been very hard.

Most of all, living here is a life worthwhile.

So, the arrival of the Nefesh b'Nefesh flights has made me feel (finally) like a vatiq, a veteran. To the new Olim I can only say:

Brukhim ha-Bai'm. You will have your own challenges. One thing I can assure you all, though. You have chosen to live a worthwhile life, in which every step you take and every quotidien deed you do, has eternal value for the Eternal People.