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Transient Souls: The Aliyah Chronicles #3

Transient Souls: The Aliyah Chronicles #3

Moving to Israel is a daunting, if not a downright crazy task to accomplish.


We are leaving for Israel in a week and a half.

I am exhausted, run down, coughing, sneezing, and dragging my feet. We moved into a two-bedroom apartment to avoid the toxic dust of construction happening in our 90-yr old house taken over by new owners. We have been schlepping, sweating, organizing, and cleaning, and we're not done. We're sleeping on mattresses on the floor, some with sheets, some without, and have no other furniture except for a small bridge table and a few folding chairs. Our duffel bags and suitcases, overflowing with clothing and linens, decorate the apartment, offering my two-year-old much opportunity for mischief. Having one pot, a few pieces of plastic silverware, and one stovetop burner that works, we have definitely scaled down.

Despite having an overwhelming amount of things to do, I have not forgotten that it is now the three weeks before Tisha B'Av. During this sad time, as we mourn the destruction of the first and second Temple in Jerusalem, centuries of anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish people as well as the disunity between our own nation, God is not as close to us. There's a distance.

And it is this distance that I feel more acutely as we make our final preparations for our move to Eretz Yisrael.

With our house and car sold, the container of our most important belongings sailing across the ocean, our plane tickets reserved, temporary housing and schools arranged in Israel, and much of our material items thrown out or given away, we embody the definition of transient souls.

Now that it's evident that we're really moving, the goodbyes are beginning. My in-laws returned to Florida with heavy hearts after an extended stay in New Jersey.

"I understand why you want to move to Israel," my mother-in-law shared with me before she left, "I just don't want you to go." And her eyes turned red. "You're tearing my heart out by taking away my grandchildren..."

I tried to comfort her. "Understanding why we're going is a very high level…" but I knew there was nothing really good to say. It's a long and expensive ride to Israel. "But the phone calls will be free!" Our internet phone and web camera will definitely make communication easier. It's not like making Aliyah 50 or even 25 years ago when some families spoke via telephone only once a month for a quick five or ten minutes.

And friends… some I've known from before marriage. We shared dating stories, watched each other get married, have kids. We've agonized together over parenting and school choices. Now they live down the road and while we can't see each other everyday, we're there for each other when necessary.

But not when I move to Israel.

I know we're not pioneers.

Wandering through my old, empty house searching for a couple more pans and the last of the food to move to the new apartment, organizing the remaining stray papers and clothing, my eyes get watery. Are we really moving? Did we really succeed in cleaning out this house? Will I connect to the people in Israel? Will I find what I'm looking for? Will I become the Jew that God wants me to be?

I'm having doubts. Is this what happens when we are distant from the Almighty?

I know we're not pioneers. So many others have made Aliyah before us in very difficult circumstances. Now, with so many resources available and communities to move to, the challenges are greatly diminished.

Still, moving to Israel, transplanting my family across the world to a country, in many ways foreign to us, is a daunting, if not a downright crazy task to accomplish. With no family able or willing to send us off with love and good wishes, and no family to greet us with open arms at Ben Gurion Airport, we can only hope that our trust in the Almighty remains as strong as during the past year. That we're made up of more than just "talk."

We board our plane two days after Tisha B'Av. Shabbos Nachamu will be our first Shabbos. My hope is that just as God promises to bring the Jewish people close to Him after Tisha B'Av, we, too will come close to Him as we begin our journey in Eretz Yisrael. And the comforting, happy feelings one often feels after Tisha B'Av will embrace us all the more so in our new home.

August 2, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 27

(27) Anonymous, August 9, 2008 9:32 PM

you spoke my mind

Thank you. I feel comfort in your article, your story. We too, B"H leave Sept.7th to move to Eretz Yisrael. Although my husband is Israeli and we have his family to greet us at the airport, I assure you and I know that you probably know, everyone there is your family. You already have family in Rechovot-us......I wish you all the best and thank you for making me feel not alone in the empty house, one pot, leaving friends, mattress on floor, incredible journey we are about to take.

(26) devorah, August 7, 2008 1:20 PM

To the sister of the grandma &a challenge to Mr. Silverstein

Dear Aunt of the author:
I completely agree with what you have said, in word and in spirit. In reading the article, I certainly didn't see the daughter coming to pieces from her mother's honest, albeit piercing words. She got it, and sympathized. I am a very young Savta who wholeheartedly endorsed my daughter's wishes to stay an extra year in Israel for "shana Bet" seminary, followed by her marrying a Sabra with a wonderful family, and her making Aliya. Was this a bit heartrending for me? Well, over time as there are now granchildren in the picture, it is at times, and I can completely feel for the author's mother. BUt as I have constantly told my friends and family, many of whom are astounded at my good will about my daughter's decisions, "I am really so happy for her. She is actualizing my own dreams , and I feel so much closer to E"Y now that I feel like real piece of me is there." So, the distance and the on-and-off abiltiy to share the growing of grandchildren is hard, but we celebrate for them!
As for Mr. Siverstein, are you ready to be a mensch and address all the comments posted here, of people a great deal more understanding and non-judgemental than you? Are you ready to be a mensch and post just one more comment of your own, namely, an apology and a request for forgiveness? Lashon Hora indeed it was, and done so publicly! It is almost Tisha B'Av, then Rosha Hashana and Yom Kippur. Wouldn't we want to bring Moshiach closer, so all the grandmas can finally join their Israeli families in good health??!?!

(25) Marie, August 6, 2008 5:40 PM

transient souls

Wow!!!! i am so excited for you.. and jealous.. regardless, you see yourself as transient souls in this physical world...if the physical is a "reflection" of the spiritual... even bigger "wow"... i read something today... "one is only happy when one is needed"...I believe Hashem is needed by you... will you become the Jew that God wants you to be? Hah!!!! you already are.. enjoy your journey... see you in the world to come..

(24) C. Siegel, August 6, 2008 1:14 AM

Sign Up for A Good Ulpan

Yes, it is hard to have small children and study, but learning Hebrew will never get any easier. Especially if you don't have much Hebrew to begin with, it will be frustrating and difficult for awhile--but it gets better! Investing time and sweat (and tears) in learning the language will pay off in enabling your survival in Israel. It will help you make Israel your HOME, and you will get incredible satisfaction out of learning Hebrew in the long term. Become the spirited Savta your grandchildren will be able to communicate with.

(23) ruth housman, August 5, 2008 6:09 AM

"everyone has a story"

I am fascinated by stories and we all have them. I think we are here as storytellers and that we all need listeners, because we each have epic journeys and that all of our stories come from a "soul"place. Now you are going to what you feel is a "soul place". I wish you success in the journey and to hear more about your particular heroic struggle, hopes and dreams.

I can point out that in the word Story itself is TROY, the letters transposed, and that we are all perhaps Odysseus and the obstacles we encounter and our overcoming them are all awesome. Finding roots is a deep, honorable part of the journey iself!

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