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