Happy Aliyahversary, Binny!

Binny Zupnick made Aliyah in 2012 alone at the age of 17 from West Hempstead, New York. He currently lives in Givat Shmuel where he is active in the local Egalitarian Minyan and the larger Oleh community.

It’s been 4 years since I made Aliyah, 6 years since I began bothering my parents to let me gain citizenship, 8 years since I moved here, and 22 years since I first started dreaming of Israel.

Most things I dreamed of doing or accomplishing from the age of 16 have come true so far: studying in an Israeli University, learning in an Israeli Yeshiva, doing high school here in Israel, working at some fancy startup in Tel Aviv, joining the army.

I’ve completed my list. I’ve lived my dream.

I turned in my IDF cap for an IDF uniform, my Startup Nation book for a job at an Israeli startup, the Israeli Day Parade for random pangs of pride living in Israel daily.

But what happens when you complete a dream? It’s never enough. In a good way. You can’t see yourself peaking at the age of 22. You’ve got so much more time to fulfill more dreams!

As Angelica Schuyler sings in the Broadway show Hamilton “Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now! History is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world.”

She got the city wrong, but inspiring nonetheless.

A rabbi that I used to look up to says that the Jewish State offers us a unique opportunity to mold and take part in Jewish history. A history that will resonate for thousands of years and will be written in our nation’s annals forever.

I had similar thoughts on this day 4 years ago: “This isn’t the end, rather the beginning.”

As Hamilton put it so eloquently, “We studied and we fought and we killed for the notion of a nation we now get to build for once in your life, take a stand with pride I don’t understand how you stand to the side”

For four years I’ve striven to stand up proudly and try to build that nation we’ve all fought so hard for.

There is beauty in Israel’s youth. Just as in America’s youth, immigrants, like I am myself, are not only accepted – we excel. “America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me. You let me make a difference. A place where even orphan immigrants can leave their fingerprints and rise up.”

Israel is now that great unfinished symphony that I, and many others, are still working on writing. Every Israeli has that unique privilege to contribute.

So how do I personally try adding my music to this symphony? Hamilton says to Burr, “no one knows what you believe! I will not equivocate on my opinion I have always worn it on my sleeve.”

Two (also immigrant) friends and I decided we’d, “rather be divisive than indecisive,” so we took Hamilton’s advice and started speaking up, being prouder and louder about our beliefs. Thus was born, What’s Left of Religion (WhatsLeftOfReligion.com), a platform for us to write about that which we hold dearest – our country – from our perspective as religious immigrants.

So here’s a toast to all new and old Israeli immigrants: May our dreams not be checked at the tarmac of our Aliyah flight. Israel is not a distant dream from the diaspora, but rather a tangible concept about which we get to continually dream of. Beyond dreaming, unlike in the diaspora, we can actually make those dreams of our country come true. To quote Hamilton one last time, “Immigrants: we get the job done.”