By: Batya Medad
I made the decision to make aliyah and live in Israel as a teenager, before meeting my husband, after taking on, due to the influence of NCSY, the more “accepted” or “popular” mitzvot like Shabbat and kashrut. I remember how I announced it to my parents.
In a way you must feel sorry for my parents. I was a strange kid. In the mid-1960’s when other kids were becoming “hippies” and discovering drugs, I was “getting high” on Torah. They couldn’t imagine where they had gone wrong. I was just too different for them to accept. Nobody’s kids were anything like me.
Then I made this grand announcement:
“I’m going to live in Israel.”
And knowing that they’d use all their intelligence and logic to try to convince me otherwise, I continued with:
“It’s a mitzvah, and just like you couldn’t stop me from keeping Shabbat and Kashrut, you can’t stop me from making aliyah.”
I accepted that mitzvah, for good or for bad, and believe me it wasn’t easy coming to 1970 Israel. But just like one loves one’s children, no matter what, and we don’t return them if “faulty,” that’s how living in Israel is for me.We made aliyah as a young couple, very idealistic and probably stupid to boot. Not stupid because we made aliyah, but stupid because we never learned the system so that we’d have a financially comfortable retirement. Many “anglos,” English speaking immigrants to Israel have the problem. Other “lantzmen” groups don’t.
I don’t think we’d be as comfortable financially if we had stayed in the states. We probably wouldn’t have had five kids either. We’d never have had been able to afford the tuition in the Jewish schools, nor health care. I don’t know if we would have had been home owners either. Here in Israel we’ve always owned our own home. We never paid rent.
Israel is the only place we’ve been as adults, not counting two years on shlichut in London 35 years ago. I developed all of my cooking and baking skills in Israel.
I’m always fascinated by all the programs to attract “western immigrants” to Israel, like Nefesh b’Nefesh. It all sounds so cold and rational, so businesslike.
There’s a magic about living in Israel, things that can’t be computed. My personal bonus is that I honestly consider my life here in the HolyLand to be wonderful. I have no compaints. I can’t imagine having a better life any other place in the world.
I’ve never regretted a day that we made our home in Israel just weeks after our wedding. We came by boat, not by plane. No matter how you come, there are things you get by living in Israel that aren’t in “this world.”