The Aliya rush

(By Margot Stern)
I still remember that feeling of landing in Israel for the first time as an Israeli citizen. Sure the story has been told countless times, and I am only one in a sea of thousands from around the world that made the decision to make Israel their home, but it never gets old. OK, maybe it does for some, but not for me. 
Recently the Jewish Agency announced that the final 1000 new immigrants of 2010 started to arrive to Israel - and who knows, but the time you read this, they''ll have all landed safely and be home.
I love reading and seeing the Facebook status updates on my wall and scrolling through the pictures of giddy people holding up their Teudat Zehuts (ID booklets).  Honestly, I remember my happy day at the Nefesh B''Nefesh offices in Jerusalem like it was yesterday.  It was the day I was reunited with my best friend, Shoshanna Kogan (from here on out, Shosh) after we had first met on the plane, in the air, flying from New York to Israel. 
You see, I had rented a car for those first two weeks to assist in running errands and visiting friends around the country.  It just so happened that my renting of a car thoroughly impressed Shosh as she considered driving in Israel to be a BIG feat and very courageous act.  As for me, I''ve driven motorbikes in Goa and grew up in south Florida.  Honestly, after one battles India, I-95 and those crazy Miami drivers, I figured Israel would be a breeze.  What I didn''t factor was the fact I had no clue of how to get around in Jerusalem.  Hence, for better or worse, there we were, two blondes in our t-shirts and tank-tops getting lost deep in the heart of Meah Sha''arim on our way to the post office.  Eventually, we did find the post office.
Anyway, for me, I still love answering those inevitable questions asked by Israelis when they hear that I made Aliyah ''alone'' from America: "You mean, you have no family here?" "Why did you do it?" I kindly smile, tell them that still today making Aliyah was one of the best decisions I''ve ever made in my life and would do it again in a heart beat.  My family abroad, of course, miss me a lot. And I miss them.  However,  they lovingly support me in my decisions and know that I am following my heart and dreams. 
Regarding my family in Israel, I don''t have blood relatives here.  Although, those that have made Aliyah or are close with anyone who has, knows that family takes on a slightly new meaning in Israel and at the end of it all, you actually end up with multiple families!  Naturally you have the family you grew up with and are connected to by blood, and then comes your new Aliyah-family, a.k.a. those special people you come in contact to post-Aliyah and henceforth become your network of love and support in Israel.  Needless to say, Shosh is definitely part of my Aliyah family.
All that said, I wish all the new olim both arriving and those that have arrived to Israel a warm, welcoming Mazal Tov. May your journey successful and even though there will be times of frustration and hardship, don''t give up.  You''re here.  Kol Hakavod.  You made it. 
Margot Stern made Aliyah in 2007 from Coral Springs, Florida and is currently the Marketing Director for the Jewish Media Hub,