I am still on a high from the Nefesh B'Nefesh Mega Event on Sunday. Even from blocks away, we could spot people who were headed to the event. The excitement was palpable when you walked into the John Jay College Campus. It was amazing to see so many people together with the same goal of making aliyah.
After being checked by security and metal detectors, and given passes that indicate we were registered for the event, we were ready to begin. The event was spread out onto three floors. The bottom floor was for north and south communities and seminar meeting rooms. The middle had the vendors and some communities in the center of the country. The top floor was for refreshments.
Our first stop was to drop off our older girls at a kids' room. There they made art projects, played games and most importantly met other kids who were planning to make aliyah. They made a few friends that were planning to move and reconnected with ones they already knew.
Next we hit the "shuk" and stocked up on lots of candy and dried fruit. With snacks in hand, we were ready to start researching and gathering information. We spoke to shipping companies, a recruiter for potential jobs, someone who helps transfer money, an ulpan service, and even a phone company. We got Israeli phone numbers! It is pretty exciting to have an 053 number to give out!
My four year old loved the a cappella group and enjoyed getting all the fun giveaways at each booth. I was pleasantly surprised how many people we knew that were either planning or thinking about aliyah in the future. But the best part for me was meeting up with our friends who are making aliyah with us this summer. We exchanged information and chatted about the crazy transition we are making. We had a small group that would be moving with us. We don't have to start from scratch when we move, we already have some friends from home!
It was heart warming to watch my eight year old reconnect with a girl that will probably be in her class next year. The visions of her standing alone at recess started to dissipate, She has a friend! They instantly reconnected and they were adorable together. They were already making plans to email and stay in touch over the next few months.
In full disclosure, there were a few things we did not do at the event that might have been useful. First, I heard after the fact that I could have signed up for the occupational therapy exam and dealt with all the associated paperwork. Since I am not planning to take my exam right away, I assume I will be able to take care of this later on. There were also tons of seminars about various aliyah topics. We did not make it to any of them. Having two small kids under foot made sitting in an hour lecture very difficult. And to be honest, it was more fun to be out and socializing.
When we first entered the event, someone asked us what we were hoping to get out of the day. We replied that we just wanted to check it out, and have fun. Mission accomplished. We all came home exhausted and smiling. We ended up learning a bit, too. I highly recommend the Mega Event to anyone who is thinking about or planning aliyah in the future.