|Our "family portrait" from our application.|
It’s time to start blogging again now that we have completed our Aliyah application and submitted it to Nefesh B’Nefesh. Well… it’s not entirely complete. We still have to make a few updates: we are waiting to get our exemplified marriage certificate back from Harrisburg, PA and my wife has to update her passport. Once those are done and the application is updated things will really start moving quickly.
The past couple of months have proven to be an interesting mix of emotions. I find that ups and downs, doubts and assurances, and moments of excitement and fear are very similar to the array that I experienced before getting married. I know it is the best thing for us and that that it will bring us happiness and fulfillment but, in order to do this, we have to leave our family and friends, adopt a different way of life, and basically, start over. At times, all of the unknowns converge to make this a very frightening endeavor.
In the end, this is what I believe is the best thing for us. After all, we are going home!
I know that many of you have made Aliyah, are thinking about it, or are currently filling out an application which is why I wanted to share our supporting essay with all of you. This was the most difficult part that I had to fill in as I had to put pure emotion on the page. It’s not the best thing every written but it is honest and that was the goal of this exercise. Hopefully, being able to see this will help some of you with your own essay. So, here it is the supporting essay from our Nefesh B’Nefesh application…
Obviously, there is much more to our decision than our previous responses and we hope the information below helps. It is a little awkward as this decision and these emotions have been difficult for us to verbalize.
We have been struggling the past few years to find our place in life as it has been a constant process of finding where we belonged: finding our faith, our people, and each other. Until we landed in Israel we hadn't found our place in the world. During those eight days we lived without the weight that life places on you, we lived our faith, we lived with pride, and we felt like we belonged. It was the feeling of being embraced by generations of longing and desire… a fulfillment of our prayerful declaration “Next year in Jerusalem.” Leaving left us on the verge of tears and, at that moment, we promised that we would return.
Before that visit, we never fully understood why we face Jerusalem when we pray, why we say "next year in Jerusalem", or why we fight so hard (and, in some cases, lose friends) defending the rights of Israel. We knew why we did these things both in our hearts and in our minds but it wasn't until we breathed the ancestral air that those acts, words, and beliefs permeated our entire being. It was the indescribable feeling of home. A feeling beyond the simple definition of where one was raised but a feeling of belonging, comfort, passion, practice, a place that is simply right, a gift from Hashem. It is a feeling that we have only had in Israel.
We know we will have to give up many of the luxuries afforded us in the US but we know we can live a full Jewish life in Israel and that is what really matters. We want to be a part of something greater; we want to live a Jewish life that is the foundation of the country as well as the community we live in. We want to live in the center of the Jewish world and as we continue to grow in our faith and become more observant we want to live the daily mitzvah of living in Israel.
We want to be free to be Jews. We want to live (and raise future children) where we can see and experience the places in the Torah, learn about our past, and be a part a part of the ongoing history of our people. We want the calendar to read 5771 rather than 2011 and know the holidays highlighted are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur rather than Christmas and Easter. We want to be able to wear a kippah or cover our hair without being glared at in stores. We want to walk down the street knowing that if we ask someone where we could find the nearest shul or kosher restaurant that they would know. We want to feel safe and know that everyone is looking out for one another. Some people call it intrusive but we see it as security and community.
We want to speak and live a life in Hebrew. While we have started learning the basics by building upon what we learned during our conversions and what we practice in prayer, it is a slow process when not applied to everyday life. Just as the history and beauty of the language elevates our prayers we want it to elevate our daily life. Even without fully understanding we still got that feeling during our honeymoon as we listened to the conversations in the cafes, on the street, at the Kotel, everywhere.
On the more practical side of things, life expectancy is nearly two years longer in Israel, the crime rate is lower, a thriving economy, universal healthcare, and educational options for our future children are more plentiful. In order to live a Jewish life in the US it is expensive to the point that we can't afford it by ourselves now without children. We can't afford to live in a Jewish community, pay synagogue dues, or shop at kosher supermarkets. It is a sad feeling when you realize you can’t afford to live a Jewish life.
Simply put, we want to live what we believe. We believe Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people; we believe Israel is our home. We want to go home!