No Longer New: Aliya, the first year

11 months have passed by, since we left behind America, boarded an El-Al charter flight and came home to Israel.
11 months have passed by, since we said goodbye to friends and family, and drove from Boca Raton, Florida, to New York City.
11 months have passed by, since we left the comforts and ease of life in America, and landed in the fast and furious Middle East.

I planned to blog for our one year “Aliyaversary”, but I quickly realized that the kids would all be home, as their camps are almost over (and there’s still a whole 5 weeks of summer vacation to go!), and the chance of me having time to sit and write was slim. It seems appropriate to write the blog post today, 11 months and 1 day after our arrival, as the Nefesh B’Nefesh summer flights have just begun. In fact today, in JFK airport in New York, some 220 people are boarding a flight, right about now, much like ours from last year. Tomorrow morning they will arrive at Ben Gurion airport, they will have their welcome ceremony, similar to that which we had last August, and they will start their new lives as Israelis.

It makes me really happy to say that I know 3 families on that flight. One from Florida, one from Virginia, and one from Colorado. As everything is still so fresh in my mind, I have tried to help each of them as much as possible plan for this move. Whether advising them on what to stock up on for their lift, recommending crates for the dogs, or simply explaining to them some of the “shouldbesosimplebutisnt” things that they will have to deal with upon arrival, I’ve attempted to cover it all.
With their arrival tomorrow their dream will be fulfilled. The days, weeks, months, and often years leading up to making aliya are a work in progress – so many things come into play, faith, beliefs, emotions, money. Once you finally arrive here at your destination, it’s difficult to know what to do next. The first weeks (months) are a mess of bureaucracy, something that many find difficult to deal with – especially those coming from North America. Once all of that is out of the way, your dream is now your reality.

Our reality here in Israel is good. It’s wonderful. I’m not one to tint things with rose colored glasses – you should all know me better than that by now. There are things here that will never be easy, and many people allow those things to become an obstacle to their happiness. In order to be happy here, you simply have to “Let Go, and Let God”, as a well known rabbi from South Florida once said, while sky diving somewhere in Israel. I try hard not to let things get to me. Like waiting almost 5 hours at the driver’s license bureau in Holon, simply to get a piece of paper stamped to allow me to take a test to switch my license over. Yes it was frustrating. No it was not fun. But it was part of the first year full of things that just had to get done. Once it’s done, you never have to do most of those things ever again. (Ok, so grocery shopping, dealing with the bank and post office, are things we kind of have to always do, but you get used to it…)

Tomorrow morning, an airplane full of people will become the newest Olim in Israel. As of tomorrow, the Olim of 2014 become the “vatikim” – the “old timers”. We will always be immigrants, as I wrote a few weeks ago, but we are no longer the newest crop. We still have so much to learn about our new-to-us homeland, and yet we have learned so much that we can impart to the newbies.

I wish all the olim arriving tomorrow hatzlacha raba – much success – and a klita kalla vene’ima – an easy and pleasant absorption. May you enjoy a wonderful first year in Israel, and may it also be your worst year in Israel – let each year get better, and let our love of Israel only grow and strengthen our reserve to stay here, in our homeland, our country.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. PublicSchoolConservadox
    Jul 16, 2015 @ 15:12:17

    I find your piece very informative, personable, and very real. I would like to request you write a piece redacting or comparing your hindsight bias to this piece you previously wrote. ___ sadly at this time it has been popping back up on social media. Due to your current experience and hindsight about that point in your life it might be beneficial for klal yisrael to hear your side 3 years out. As you previously have sad the summer is the time when everyone is preparing for the next school year either nervous about the costs or nervous about the education for their loved ones. As a product of a public school upbringing, with non denominational afternoon hebrew school I know first hand that statistics are against anyone who sends their kids outside of yeshiva system. That is not to say yeshiva system is perfect many will say how their peers are not religious or have animosity towards the system. With that said “home life” is key and summer programs I believe were the key for me. I am not the norm but I do believe there is a problem but lambasting the system without accountability is not a solution. The most reasonable solution I have started to see is income driven tuition scale with factors based on family size. Anyone who can do math knows what on average you can afford based on income given a certain area unless there are other sources upon those cases it is rare to even be apart of a tuition discussion. I believe this is the way of the future as it creates transparency and avoids the awkward encounters you previously discussed. Even in Israel income and way of living is challenging as well. I wish you only the best on your journey and it appears you couldn’t be happier with your decision.


    • vanessabrooksceo
      Jul 16, 2015 @ 15:28:14

      I’m sorry you didn’t use your real name to comment here. In any case, yes, my article has resurfaced recently, as it is exactly 3 years since it was originally published. I stand by every word I wrote. Sadly, nothing has changed regarding Yeshiva tuition in the US, and from what I have heard from some friends, it has gotten worse in some areas.
      It had always been our plan to move to Israel – my husband & I both lived here previously – and the cost of Jewish education had very little to do with our decision. My children spent one year being homeschooled, and one year at Ben Gamla charter school. Both were excellent choices, and they were both very positive experiences for our family.
      Now that we have returned to Israel, we have the benefit of giving our children a religious education within the public school system here, but as I have said many times before, if not in my blog, certainly in person, the cost of tuition is not a good reason to make aliyah.Those how make aliya solely for that reason, are making a big mistake.


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