Updated: Jun 21, 2020
About 6 years ago, my husband, Yosef, and I woke up one day and had the following conversation:
Me: "Hey, let's do something crazy. How about we pack up our kids, quit our jobs and move to a country away from most of our family where we barely speak the language? Bonus - lice is super prevalent there and so is the occasional terrorist attack! Sound good?"
Him: "Yes, dear."
Obviously, our actual discussions went a bit differently than that but the bottom line was the same. Very few people will decide to make the move to Israel because it's practical or makes financial sense. For most people, deciding to make Aliyah is a huge leap of faith mixed with several moments of pure insanity, at least that is what it was for us.
Making the decision is difficult but it is only the first step of a long (and sometimes bumpy) journey. Based on my experience, some of the key factors needed to have a successful Aliyah is a deep sense of purpose and faith, a tough shell, the ability to find humor during hard times and PLANNING - lots and lots of planning.
Sometimes, even if all the key factors are present, many people who make Aliyah still end up leaving Israel for various different reasons. It is a tough move and it can take its toll financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually but there is also so much to gain. My goal in writing this all down is to share my family's experience with all of you – the ups and downs, the tears and laughter, the things I wish I knew before and the things that keep us strong.
Whether you are considering this amazing move, are already living in Israel or just want to learn more about life in this crazy country we call home, I am happy to share our family's experience with all of you. I'll talk all about our Aliyah planning process and the actual move across the ocean and I'll share stories (funny, sad and embarrassing) about our 'Klita' process or absorption into Israel society - spoiler alert, the klita is only complete when you learn to really yell in Hebrew (or in English with an Israeli accent, that works too).
I credit a lot of our ability to have accomplished this journey effectively to the fact that we managed our expectations and started this path fully aware of the challenges we may face. In some ways, the actual process was not 'as bad' as we anticipated so we felt ready to handle it. Because of this, I promise to be completely honest in what I share – the good, the bad and the ugly. I may not always be 100% correct in all of my opinions but I am only sharing our personal experience in hope that it helps you with your journey, wherever it may take you.
Also, as I mentioned, planning is a HUGE factor in making this move possible. In my opinion, a solid plan is not a 'nice to have' its an absolute necessity. Not a planner? No worries, that is where I come in. As someone with a solid Type A personality, I absolutely love planning – seriously, I have an addiction to making lists and I should probably get it checked out by a professional. I figured, for those of you who are considering this major step, I will share my tips and lists that I put together along the way, including pre-Aliya planning timeline and tasks, packing and preparing for the move, pilot trip plan, budgeting excels, etc. I will also share the knowledge that I picked up over the last 6 years (mostly by trial and lots and lots of error).
I don't pretend to be an Aliyah expert, I only ever did this one time in my life (although, I guess if I had to do it multiple times, I wouldn’t be a very reliable expert either) but I am a big believer in making informed decisions. For my family, Aliyah was one of the best decisions we ever made despite continuous ups and downs.
The idea for sharing all this information came after having multiple discussions with my mom. My mom is on the verge of retirement and is starting to seriously consider Aliyah. Unlike me, my Mom is not a planner. Because of our different strengths, over the years, I have taken over the role of helping her plan. I made her a master list for cleaning for Pesach, a list of things to do with an attached timeline before my wedding, a list of what must be done to clean out and sell my grandmother's apartment….you get the idea. Anyway, my mom is very overwhelmed by this idea of Aliyah and doesn't even want to start the process or know where to begin. After channeling my inner Julie Andrews and belting out a rendition of "let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start," I realized that I must step up to plate and do my job as her official "list maker." Of course, my experience and knowledge for making Aliyah was specifically focused on a family Aliyah. For a single retiree, or anyone in a different stage of life, the Aliyah process will be somewhat different but what I don't know, I will research and share with all of you. Now, with my purpose stated, I will roll up my metaphorical sleeves, put my metaphorical color-coded pens to paper and start getting organized.