My Mother's Perspective On Our Aliyah

Becca and Simcha chose to tell us their Aliyah news after the kids were settled in bed and we were finishing a delicious Rosh Hashana meal in their home.  My initial reaction was purely positive. “Wow, that’s amazing!” I felt such happiness for them as I listened to their excited voices and noticed the glow that lit their animated faces.  But then… not many minutes later, my mind and heart started connecting to what they were really saying. They, along with the grandchildren we had just kissed goodnight and the new grandchild we were soon to meet (Becca was pregnant) would be much less accessible for visits. No more three-hour drives from Baltimore to Clifton up the New Jersey Turnpike every 6-8 weeks to get our children and grandchildren fix. Way less hugs, cuddling for story time, kisses, laughter.

We know the drill. Our middle daughter, Shana, moved to Israel right after high school.  Seminary, college, marriage, children – she built her adult life there. Missing her and her beautiful family every day, we are already intimately familiar with the many challenges of long distance relationships. My husband and I already know how much we miss by living so far away.  It is not ideal.

We believe in our children.  Each of our girls is exceptionally grounded.  They consistently make well-considered, smart choices and we are so very proud of them.  This is one such choice. It may seem a fast decision, but it actually is not. Zionism, a deep love for Israel and the dream of Aliyah were ideals taught to Becca and her sisters from a young age in the Jewish day school they attended, our synagogue and reinforced in our home. Becca has always wanted to make Aliyah. The desire has been on the back-burner, brewing. The timing did catch us off guard, because Becca and Simcha have a beautiful home, a wonderful community, schools in which the kids are thriving, a warm and caring circle of friends and an enviable life in Clifton.  Still, the actual decision is not really a surprise. The time has come.

I would not be honest if I failed to share how hard this will be for us and how much we will miss not having them a quick drive away.  Phone calls and video chats will replace much of our face-to-face time. Pictures and videos will replace many shared daily activities and milestones.  I am not ready for retirement and will not be for at least five years, so we will up our game and make longer and more frequent trips to visit both families in an attempt not to be just “the grandparents on the phone.” We will make the best of it.

We look forward to seeing our Davidman group thrive in Israel.  We know they will succeed and build a superior life as they fulfill the dream.  Tears of sadness and of joy will flow. We support their decision and we are very proud of them!  

The Clock Keeps Ticking

It seems like the clock is moving really fast these days. Now that it is Spring (at least in theory), we have so many things to do. 

It is time to revamp our resumes and start applying to jobs. Up until this point, I have been working as an Occupational Therapist. My current resume reflects that work experience. I am now hoping to make a career change. My new resume has to highlight my transferable skills and demonstrate how I am qualified for new positions. 

It is time to start looking for apartments. We have reached out to some of the people we know in Ramot and are regularly checking for available housing. Obviously we can not find something too far in advance since we do not want to sign a lease until closer to our aliyah date. 

It is time to work on the girls' schools. Technically we need a tehudat zehut or a residential address to register our children for school. As new olim, we will not have either of these until very close to the school year. We contacted the Irya and they suggested we speak with the school directly. We are still working on reserving a spot for our daughter entering gan chova. I hope we can reserve a spot in a gan with some of the children she already knows and other English speakers.

It is time to clean out our house. I already compiled a packing list of the major items we are planning to send on our lift. But now it is more about the nitty gritty. Batteries: ship or give away? Old pictures: ship or trash? Which toys should we keep? Each and every item in our house has to be classified into one of five categories: Sending on our lift, packing in our suitcases, selling, giving away, or trash. This is quite a tedious task.  

It is time to start planning our aliyah yard sale. We have so many nice things that we are not planning to bring with us. We have to gather all of the items in our "selling" category and figure out prices. We need to choose a date, get a permit and publicize our sale. 

It is time to start planning our summer. Coordinating selling a house, lift pick ups, and aliyah dates is very tricky to say the least. Once we do sell our house, where are we going to live? How are we going to bring our 10 suitcases to wherever we are going to live? We are blessed to have amazing friends and family to house us and assist with all the complicated logistics, but it is still a lot to figure out!

It is time to order suitcases. We ordered an additional four suitcases that fit the El Al requirements bringing our suitcase total to 10. Being on the aliyah charter flight, each of us are entitled to 2 suitcases of 70 pounds each. Once our suitcases arrive, we will start packing our summer clothes and the belongings we plan to keep with us. That will allow us to start selling or throwing out dressers and preparing us for the lift pick-up day. 

This is it! This is crunch time! Our countdown is at 116 days. We have so much to do in that short amount of time.

My First Goodbye

"Just fill out this envelope and sit down" were the directions given to me by the lady behind the desk. I froze. I knew what it was for. I was supposed to self address an envelope so my doctor could remind me to make my annual check up next year. The thoughts came streaming in. Should I fill it out? Will we get our mail forwarded to Israel? Of course not! Why do I need a reminder, I won't be here to come to the appointment?  But should I go through the whole saga with the nice lady behind the counter? I just stood there like a deer in headlights when my doctor looked at me and said: "this usually is not difficult, are you going somewhere?"

This was my first goodbye. I have been through a lot with this doctor. She has helped me through three deliveries and some tough decisions and now, I was explaining that this will be my last visit. My doctor was kind and supportive of our move. She said that maybe she will see us when she visits Jerusalem. I had my check up. We discussed how I can get my medical records to take with me. And that was that, I left the office. My first of many goodbyes.

I guess I was not really expecting it. I was just thinking about going in for my yearly check up. And then it hit me, next year at this time, my life will look drastically different. When we thought about aliyah I realized I would need new doctors, but saying goodbye was not easy.

(By the way, if anyone in northern New Jersey is looking for an excellent OB/GYN, feel free to message me for her contact info. I highly recommend her.)

Our countdown is at 126 days. That is not a lot of time at all! I can not even imagine the next few months of goodbyes. It is going to be tough!


My Sister's Perspective On Our Aliyah

“Oh guys! We have a secret to tell you!” Becca said as she sat down on the couch right next to Robert and I. My first thought was, she’s pregnant again, but I took one look at the adorable one month old in her arms and realized that couldn’t be it. Robert gave me a look, I looked from him to Simcha and back to Becca. “Ok? What is it?” I asked quizzically.

“We are moving to Israel!” Becca said with a huge smile on her face as she patted her baby on the back. My heart sank. “You are moving to Israel. Wow that is really exciting!” I said,  attempting to put on a brave face and trying to comprehend what she was really saying. This just felt so surreal.

“How did this happen?” I asked. As Becca and Simcha told us how they decided it was time to move, all I could think about were their kids. All I could think about were all the holidays and birthdays we would not be a part of. All the graduations, all the milestone moments and all of the new aspects of their life in Israel we would just not fully understand.

I stole a glance at my oldest niece next to her dad, sitting crisscrossed with her head buried deeply into a chapter book, and my eyes started to water. I heard my two other nieces laughing upstairs, and I had to blink to keep the tears from falling down my face. I listened to the excitement in Becca and Simcha’s voices and I knew that they were really going; My heart broke.

Shana, the middle of the three of us, has been living in Israel since she graduated High School. I have become accustomed to her and her family living 6,000 miles away. But Becca and Simcha? They were supposed to be here. They were supposed to be just an hour and a half car ride up 95. I was supposed to be a bigger part of their children's lives.

Robert keeps reminding me that it is for the best and we will go and visit. And he is right. It is for the best for their family. Israel is where they belong. I keep telling myself that I am excited for them, and most of the time, I really am, but that doesn't make it easy.

Over the last few months, my mind has constantly been going back to Simcha. I have always felt like I had a special connection with him. Maybe that’s what happens when your sister get’s married when you are still in High School. Or maybe everyone feels this way about Simcha. I’m not so sure, but the fact that I won’t be able to stay up late with him on Passover night talking, or watch Robert and Simcha bond together across the table at family gatherings or even simply text him when I need advice, is hard for me to grasp. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know that Simcha will always be there for me when I need him. I know that I can always WhatsApp him, I know that Robert and I will be visiting Israel more frequently now that all 8 of my nieces and nephews will be there. I just hope that our special bond doesn’t dwindle just because of the 7 hour time difference.

Since Becca and Simcha told us they were moving, I have gone through a lot of emotional stages. Sadness, denial, confusion… but in the end, all the feelings turned into one; Pride. I am so proud of Becca and her family.

Becca has been such an inspiration throughout my entire life.  I am in awe of her and the life she has built for herself. I’ve never been a wife or a mother but I can only imagine that it must take a lot of courage and a lot of faith in your marriage and your family to be able to leave the comfort of America and move half across the world. As hard as I think it is for me to see them go, it is going to be 100 times harder for them. They are the ones who are finding a new home, a new community. They are the ones that need to speak Hebrew, get accustomed to a new culture; a new life style. They are the ones that are taking a gigantic leap into the unknown. The amazing thing about it is, I have never seen them happier or more excited. That right there, trumps all the sadness and heartbreak I have gone through. Seeing Becca this happy is a blessing. She has found a husband who has given her the support and the love to be able to go after her dreams. A husband who is right there next to her, encouraging her, admiring her and strengthening her. A husband who she can count on.  She has three wonderful daughters and an incredible son who are just as excited and ready for the challenge as she is. Becca’s family is one fortified unit and I am comforted in knowing that they have each other through this wild and crazy adventure. As long as they have each other, they will be ok and therefore, I will continue to be proud of them…from afar that is. 

Movin' On Up

A representative from one of the moving companies just left our house. He walked through each of our rooms and we told him what we were planning to ship, what we were leaving behind, and what we were not sure about. We created a tentative bringing, maybe and staying list. We spoke about items we plan to buy prior to the shipment and include on the lift as well.

After we went room by room, and hesitantly gave our list of essentials, we sat down to discuss our lift options. We were told lifts take around 5-7 weeks to ship door to door. Our list of 'definitely taking' will tightly squeeze into a 20 foot container. If we want to take our 'maybe list' as well as anything else at all, we should spring for the 40 foot container.

In a nutshell here is my analysis of the 40 foot vs. 20 foot decision:

If we choose the 20 foot: Obviously, the lift will be cheaper to ship. We will be so tight on space that we will not be able to bring anything extra. We will have to leave behind all of our 'maybe list'. But, if we save the extra $3,000 on shipping costs, we can use that to buy more new products in Israel. 

If we choose the 40 foot container: We will have tons of space! We will have ample room for shopping trips and we can bring more American products. For example, we can buy American beds and then send them in the lift. Bringing more from America usually means getting better quality for a cheaper price. For example, We were told IKEA, which seems to be a popular place to buy furniture in Israel, is about half the price in America than in Israel. So, we can bring more and pay less for each item. The question is, is it worth $3,000?

Next issue about lifts is the timing.  Shipments arrive in Israel on Tuesdays (at least from this company). With G-d's help, our charter flight arrives in Israel on Wednesday, August 15th. Based on our discussions with the lift representative we can do one of two things. We can have a crew come to our house, pack up our stuff on July 16-18th. We can aim for it to arrive on August 14th and then rush to the office to get the paperwork signed and started once we arrive the next day. Even with the rush, we will still need to wait a few days for the customs to be approved. After that we can schedule a date for delivery. The whole process will bring us to our shipment arriving to our new home around August 20-22.  Or we can wait an additional week. If we decide to pack up and send our shipment on July 23-25th it will arrive in Israel on August 21st after we have already landed. In this case, we would be able to start the paperwork process before the shipment arrives at the port and expedite the process a bit. Our belongings could be delivered August 24-27th. Either way, we will be in Israel for some time before our shipment reaches our home. Either way, we will need a place to stay before our beds arrive. 

Without knowing where we will be living, it is difficult to make all of these choices. How much will we really want to bring with us? Which items are on our bringing list and which do we leave behind? Is it worth it to buy new items to send on the lift? How much space will we have in our new home for all these belongings? Which dates will best work for our move? 

He left and I felt stressed. There are so many decisions to make. So many hard choices without knowing all the facts. Interestingly enough, I was not emotional about leaving behind many of our belongings. I did not feel the same emotional baggage I felt when we first started preparing our house for potential buyers. Now, we are more confident with our decision to leave our house and a lot of our belongings behind to build a new home with our priorities in check. Now, my questions are more about what we will need for our new home, not longing for the things we are leaving behind. 

A few months ago, when I looked out at our yard and swingset I was saddened that we will not be able to transport it with us. Now, when the representative asked about outdoor furniture, I matter-of-factly said, we are leaving it here. I am noticing a transformation in my attitude toward this move. The more confident I am about our choice to make aliyah, the easier it is becoming to leave some of this life behind. I have to admit, it is still not easy, but there is a small part of me that is getting more used to the idea. In addition to our aliyah date countdown (which is down to 158, by the way), we are working on setting a shipping date to look forward to as well. 

L'Shana Haba

I had the privilege of taking my girls to a pre-purim concert this past motzei shabbat. It was extremely late, tons of fun, and an awesome bonding experience for all of us. As one of the final songs of the night, they played L'shana Haba B'Yerushalayim. A shiver ran through my body as I realized, "Yes, this song is talking about us, we really will be in Eretz Yisrael next year!"

I ran over to each of my girls and screamed over the blaring music "This song means next year in Yerushalayim and that is going to be us." I saw their minds processing and then a huge grin on each of their faces.We high-fived and continued dancing and enjoying the rest of the concert.

I recently heard a speaker point out that this is our children's aliyah as much as it is ours. It is something that has been going through my mind a lot lately. My husband and I made the decision to make aliyah, went on the pilot trip and have been making tons of decisions about the plans. But, I am really trying to make this a positive aliyah experience for all of us and include the kids on as much as we can. We had a family meeting to discuss the pros and cons of each community we are considering. We try to share as many details about the planning with them as possible and ask their opinions when we can take it into account. I have been making a deliberate effort to check in with them every few weeks about how they are feeling about this whole process. After all, this life change is going to impact their lives as much or more than it does mine.

People ask us all the time about how our children are feeling about the move. I would like share that they are super excited. I think that for the most part it is true. As my four year old so eloquently explained one night, she is happyish saddish. Saddish to leave her friends who speak English and happyish that she will learn so much Hebrew. One of my other girls casually explained on our walk to shul this past week that we should have moved a long time ago. She stated in a very matter of fact way that Israel is where the Jewish people should live, and then asked why we waited so long to move? To me, that is a win. My daughter understands why we are turning our lives upside down and is excited to make aliyah.

I hope that this excitement will only grow. I hope that we can make this a positive aliyah experience for all of us. Our countdown is at 168 days. Not only will we be in Eretz Yisrael l'shana haba, but we will be there in 168 days!