Reflections on my First Year of Aliyah

Batyah Azoulay grew up in Denver, Colorado, and made Aliyah alone with Nefesh B’Nefesh in August 2015 at the age of 18. Batyah currently lives in Nahariya as a part of the NBN Go North program, and is awaiting her draft into the IDF this August, where she is excited to serve for 2 years.

This piece is a reflection on Batyah’s first year of Aliyah:

This month will be one year since I made Aliyah.
One year since I last hugged my mother and my father.
One year since I last sang songs with my sister.
One year since I last went out for Sunday doughnuts with my aunt.
One year since I was physically with anyone who has known me since I was a child.

This bittersweet year has gone by fast, and I have gone through the range of emotions that come with moving to a completely new country: high from all the excitement, in total disbelief that I finally accomplished one of my biggest dreams, having that “oh shoot” moment, internally questioning “what did I do?”, feeling depressed and angry with myself for making such a move, doubting my abilities to live away from everyone and everything I have ever known, and sometimes feeling so bitter about my Aliyah I would cry myself to sleep.

But then I realized I did the right thing. I, by myself, took a brave stance at a turning point in my life and took control of an unbeatable opportunity for success. Aliyah has been, and still is, scary, but I can say that the acclimation process really gets easier. I now feel like I am a part of society. I don’t have to use my GPS to get around all that often (unless I’m in Haifa, then forget it – that city is impossible without a GPS!).

Now I wake up in the morning and don’t wish I could just fall back to sleep and keep dreaming of Colorful Colorado. Now I wake up and I am happy to start my day. I am excited to see what new adventures will come my way. I love leaving the house and only hearing Hebrew around me, no matter where I go. I love the food and the culture, including the aggressive side. I love being surrounded by people that I love and care about, and that I know love and care about me, as well. I would never trade the world for the relationships I have built here. I am especially grateful for my boyfriend’s parents, whom I live with; they have become my second set of parents and siblings, and I love their wonderful animals too!

I am especially grateful for my boyfriend, Yoel, who is my dearest and best friend of all. This year has been challenging for both of us. During the times when I feel like I have no more strength to keep pushing through, he always points the way. He inspires me to be a better and healthier version of myself. He has stuck with me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Through each and every emotion I felt during this process, even the bad ones, he patiently and kindly loved me through it. I thank him for being my lighthouse while I was searching through the storm. The first year of Aliyah is the hardest year – let’s celebrate our success!

Even through all the ups and downs of my first year of Aliyah, I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had to. I love my country, and all the people in it.

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” 
- Walt Disney

I know this transformation is painful, but you’re not falling apart; you’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful.” 
- William C. Hannan

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson