Making aliyah to Israel is a difficult sacrifice - opinion

The reality that immigrants, especially new and young olim, won’t be celebrating Passover, weddings, and births with their families, especially for younger olim, is causing anguish.

New Olim at BGA make Aliyah during Corona  (photo credit: YONIT SCHILLER)
New Olim at BGA make Aliyah during Corona
(photo credit: YONIT SCHILLER)
‘Making aliyah is not easy, and anyone who tells you otherwise is not telling you the truth.”
I say that line in every speech that I give in which I try to inspire people to move to Israel. Of course, I immediately follow that up by making clear that it’s a worthwhile move, and that everything worthwhile in life comes via challenges and effort. But anyone making aliyah must know that it will not be easy.
Every person or family who moves to Israel experiences their own trials and struggles, but this past year – and this past month in particular – has brought a new collective challenge to Israel’s English-speaking community. Many immigrants would have never made aliyah if they knew it would mean not seeing their parents for well over a year; none would have made aliyah had they known it would mean that parents and siblings could not be present for their weddings or the births of their children. It was all inconceivable a year ago.
The reality that English speaking immigrants, especially new and young olim, won’t be celebrating Passover, weddings, and births with their families, especially for younger olim, is causing significant anguish. The pain is real. The wounds are raw. I hear it in people’s voices on a daily basis.
We, as a community, must recognize this truth, and must do two things collectively to address this painful reality.
First, we must be there for one another. We must become the families that everyone is longing for. We must reach out to assist and provide the love for anyone who planned on being with family for Passover, who needed family and now won’t have them nearby. 
We must keep our eyes and ears open to hear the cries of women who are giving birth without their mothers by their sides – in many cases with the knowledge that there could be significant complications during and after the birth.
We have to show up at weddings with the excitement and love that parents would show their children if they were present – not as replacement for their parents, but at the very least to make sure we do our part to make the wedding as joy filled as possible. If we truly are one family, now is the time for all of us to step up and make that as tangible as possible.
Second and perhaps more importantly, we must all take a deep breath and zoom out for a moment and look at the big picture: we are blessed to live in our own state in our own land. With all its flaws and challenges, we are literally living the fulfillment of prophecies.
Our ancestors opened the Bible and read about a future “ingathering of the exiles,” and believed that a time would come when it would transpire. We don’t have to believe it anymore. It’s happening right now, we are living it ourselves. They read biblical passages about an eventual re-flourishing of the Land of Israel, and believed that this miracle would someday occur. But we don’t have to merely read the words. We see it right before our own eyes on a daily basis.
Try to imagine what our great-great-great grandparents would have sacrificed to just breathe the air of Israel for a few minutes. And we are blessed to live here. We are blessed to be living the prayers and dreams of our ancestors – literally. And that should serve as some comfort as we navigate these challenging times.
Jews who have made aliyah from English-speaking countries, who left behind great comfort, who ran to Israel and not from persecution or suffering, demonstrate remarkable ideological convictions and strength of character, with a capacity to deal with whatever comes our way.
The work we are doing trying to push the government to change its policies will continue, especially regarding vaccinated non-Israelis entering the country, and I believe those efforts will soon bear fruit.
In the meantime, let us recognize and remember that making aliyah meant sacrifice, and despite those who at the moment may be questioning their decision to move to Israel, years from now we will look back and be able to say that despite all the painful sacrifices, making aliyah was the best decision we ever made.
The writer served as a member of the 19th Knesset and is the secretary-general of the Confederation of United Zionists.