It happened. I just celebrated my fourth Aliyahversary. After spending a year and half in Israel I decided to make the commitment – I turned to Nefesh B’Nefesh and made it official, I made Aliyah. Now, after over five and a half years, four of them as an official Israeli, I am proud to say Israel and I are still in our honeymoon phase… and I hope to keep it that way.
Although it’s not always easy, and I don’t consider myself to be an expert, I thought I would share some of the ways Israel and I are keeping it in the honeymoon phase.
Remembering the things that were exciting in the beginning
It’s natural that as time passes, the spark tends to fade. But if you actively and consciously work to keep the spark burning, it will.
It was one of my first Fridays in Israel and naturally I decided that I would go to the Shuk to do my shopping. Visiting the veggie guy and getting a juice from the juice lady was so exciting. What was even more exciting was that EVERYONE was there, getting ready for Shabbat. EVERYONE was doing their Friday shopping and preparing for their family dinner, and I was a part of it!
I flashed back to the grocery store in Santa Barbara (where I had decided to go to college after growing up in Los Angeles) and I remembered asking where they kept the challah – my ignorance from LA. I quickly understand that it was a dumb question to ask in Santa Barbara, as the clerk looked at me with a blank stare- “Huh? Hhhaalla?” I left the store crying to my mom over the phone.
Fast forward to today, over 260 Fridays in Israel later, walking through the Shuk doesn’t have the same “wow factor” but, while other people get annoyed with the sardine like experience, the elbows and the Shuk carts crashing, I laugh and embrace it as I remember that excitement from my first months in Israel. How wonderful it is to be surrounded by so many people who know what challah is.
Recognizing that the hard stuff generally isn’t unique to Israel
I have experienced that many people like to blame Israel for some of the most common hardships in life. I too am guilty of this.
Last year, my internet at home stopped working so I called the internet company (name not to be mentioned) for assistance. But it wasn’t just one call; it was literally seven hours on the phone. From the technician to the provider back to the financial department and then the technician and then I did it all over again. It was frustrating, seriously frustrating. Now, you may think it was because of my Hebrew- no, not true. So the answer must be that it’s just Israeli bureaucracy.
I called my friend “I discovered the reason why people leave Israel.” Coming from me, my friend was curious. “And why is that?” she asked. “The internet company.”
I was obviously being sarcastic as I was just purely irritated from the experience, but my friend’s answer was so true- “the internet company is annoying in any country.” That is a fact. (And I apologize to anybody reading this who works for an internet company).
The moral of the story is that my internet saga was not something uniquely Israeli. My mom in the US and your brother in the UK have had the same challenging experience on the phone with the internet company as I did in Israel. We complain the same about drivers in LA as drivers in Tel Aviv, and the lines at the Misrad HaRishui are no different than the lines at the DMV, etc etc.
So when you drop your eggs on the walk home from the Shuk because you accidently got hit by a Shuk cart, and you have that desire to blame the entire experience on the State of Israel, try to remember that as my good friend and comedian Benji Lovitt states, “I’m pretty sure they have gravity in America!”
Do things that energize and reenergize your commitment and love
Admit it, before you made Aliyah, you read books about Zionism and Jewish history, you were active in your community, you went to see inspiring speakers and lectures on Israel, and you actively developed your identity, love, and commitment as a Jewish Zionist. So why stop after making Aliyah?
Personally, I am a part of a fantastic supportive community. I go to educational lectures at least twice a month and do monthly guard duty through a group called Shomer Israel (through Shomer Hadash), I visit historical landmarks and museums, and continue to read my sappy Zionist books. Whenever I finish a book, exit the museum, or come back disgustingly dirty and exhausted from all-night guard duty shift, I am reminded that I made the right decision when I boarded my one-way flight to Israel.
Always have something to look forward to
Life is dynamic and always changing and developing. No matter where in life you may be, there is always a next goal, something to strive for, and something to look forward to. I get excited thinking about my future in Israel and the things I want to accomplish, from anything extremely over-ambitious to the smallest goal.
My approach has been the “Israel Bucket List.” This is a list of any goal, big or small, that you look forward to accomplishing as an Israeli. My list includes developing my Hebrew to a point where I can read the newspaper with ease, starting a Moshav in the South, hiking Shvil Israel (the Israel Trail), and mastering the art of cooking a perfect shakshuka.
Since my arrival to Israel, I have been adding to my bucket-list and it has continuously grown. When you make your list, make it really long and keep adding to it. My guarantee, you will never get bored. At least that has been my experience up until now. I have not, for one day, been bored since I have lived in Israel.
No, it’s not always easy living in Israel, but can you think of anywhere where it’s ALWAYS easy? What I can say is that Israel is my home, it’s a great place to live, and with a little bit of effort, just like in any relationship, I have continued loving living in Israel throughout it all. Israel and I- we’re keeping it in the honeymoon phase.