If I told you that living in Israel was easy, I would be lying. Prices for basically anything from groceries to cars to apartments are sky high. Salaries are generally much lower compared to other countries for the exact same positions.
There is the security situation and the fact that we don’t know if a war will break out from one day to the next. Some days living here can be very difficult.
Despite these challenges, I don’t regret making aliyah for a minute.
In fact, I count making aliyah as one of the best decisions I have ever made. But with the daily grind of life here, sometimes it is easy to lose sight of what make Israel so special. Thus, I have come up with a list of three reasons why I made aliyah and continue to love life in Israel.
Family and Friends:
One of the things I love the most about Israel is the value placed on being with family and friends here. Although I left all of my family behind in the US when I made aliyah, I was able to rebuild a family structure in Israel with my “adoptive family” the Sheffers, my fiance Moshe’s family, and a group of amazing friends.
The Sheffers volunteered to help me shortly after I moved to Israel because I have no family here. They invited me every Shabbat to their home just outside of Jerusalem, and for holidays I knew I always had a place to go.
Now, every Shabbat I go to Moshe’s parents, where we are often joined by other members of his family. This is something that I never had in the US mostly because my own family lives so far apart. My parents live in Memphis, my uncle lives in Florida, my brother is in Chicago and my grandfather is in New York. Getting the whole family together was such a rare occasion.
With Moshe’s family, the opposite is true. About once a month we gather for a BBQ in a forest close to where we all live. Because Israel is such a small country, getting together with family happens often and therefore feeling connected to family is much easier.
I have also made friends with such incredible people here in Israel.
They are friends from completely different backgrounds, but they all look out for me and truly value our friendship. They are people I know I could call in the middle of the night if I needed something.
For anyone who has lived in Israel for even half a year, you have experienced some of the holidays in the country and know how special they are here even if you aren’t religious. We just had Passover, when the supermarkets were packed with people buying groceries for the seder. Almost every person got together with family and friends to celebrate.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day and Independence Day everyone will stop whatever they are doing and stand in silence for several minutes remembering the victims of the Holocaust and terror attacks. On Yom Kippur, the streets are almost completely free of vehicles.
In Memphis where I grew up, I never got to experience the holidays the way I do in Israel. I don’t think native Israelis realize just how incredible experiencing the holidays in Israel is. For them, the fact that the highways are free of cars on Yom Kippur is normal. For me as an olah, it is truly special because I never experienced anything like it growing up in Tennessee.
Having two degrees in Jewish history, it is never lost on me for a second the significance of my living in Israel. When the Jews were kicked out of Land of Israel around 2,000 years ago, many Jews dreamed of returning. At the end of the Passover seder, we conclude with “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
For thousands of years spending Passover in Jerusalem was almost like a fantasy, for me it was a reality my first Passover after making aliyah. Jews have always dreamed of returning to Israel, but we live in a time where living freely as Jews here is possible.
These are just three reasons why I made aliyah. There are in fact many more. I think a portion of the people who make aliyah and return to their home countries after a few years lose sight of why they made aliyah in the first place. Life in Israel is a struggle and a challenge. Nothing comes easy here, but despite that, there is so much about Israel that is unique and wonderful.
When Israelis ask me how I could have left America for Israel, my answer is simple: I am happier in Israel in a way that I never was or could be in the US. Many Israelis dream of living in the US, but my dream for such a long time was to live in Israel and build my life here. Now, almost seven years after moving to Israel, I can’t imagine my life anywhere else.
The writer runs the successful blog “The Story of a Lone Immigrant” (http://loneimmigrant.blogspot.co.il/) and works for a hi-tech company in Herzliya.