Debbie and Dov Rapps spent many years planning and dreaming of their own Aliyah. With four sons who had moved to Israel and served in the IDF, it was a matter of waiting for the timing to be right for them to make their own move happen.
“Every time we put another one of our children on an Aliyah flight, my heart broke again as I asked myself when our turn would come,” said Debbie. When it came time to send off their third son on his Aliyah flight, Debbie said to Rabbi Fass at the airport, “Next time it will be us on that plane.”
True to their word, Debbie and Dov, together with their youngest child, Talia, boarded the Nefesh B’Nefesh August charter flight in 2013 and fulfilled their dream of making it to Israel to join their four sons, daughter in law and grandson in the Jewish homeland.
Prior to their Aliyah, Debbie and Dov attended the NBN Mega Event in 2013 to help with the practical side of Aliyah planning. “We had been to several Nefesh B’Nefesh events but the Mega was the main event- the one that really mattered and helped us get down to the tachles and the practical side of what we needed to do and what to expect from our move.”
Taking advantage of the many vendors that are available at the Mega fair helped the Rapps family prepare for the logistical and practical side of moving. “We spoke to the different shipping companies, learned about the technical side of things and then signed up for the shippers to come to our home and give us free estimates. It was a huge help because they were right there!”
Debbie also had the chance to hear from and speak with education consultants to help better understand what her youngest daughter, Talia, who was going to be entering the fifth grade, would experience when she arrived.
“The education system in Israel is different than in the US, especially for those of us who send our kids to day school,” Debbie explained. “In Israel the focus is on the group dynamic and how your child fits into the group While it is important for the child to succeed, they also need to fit in socially.”
“The advice we were given was that for the first year the priority should be to learn Hebrew. Next comes the importance of making friends. The education adviser said there should be less importance on grades and how well they are doing in school.”
“We also learned the importance of being your child’s advocate. It is important to speak up and make sure they are getting the help they need.”
With this mindset in place, Talia, now in high school, has integrated well into the Israeli school system. “We were amazed at how well she did. Her grades are off the charts and she is doing great.”
Looking back four years later after successfully settling into her new home, Debbie stressed the importance of planning ahead, preparing yourselves financially, and being aware of the changes that come with Aliyah. Remembering that life in Israel is different and preparing yourself in advance will make for a smoother “klitah”.
“If you are just considering Aliyah- even on the most basic level- go to a Mega event. It will open the spectrum of what’s out there and help you think about things you might not have thought of on your own.”
A crucial piece of advice: Speak to people who have done it before you. They are there to help you problem-solve. “You are not reinventing the wheel,” said Debbie. “Ask which shipping companies were helpful. Ask which appliances you should bring. Join the Facebook groups and ask your questions- you may get 500 answers but at least you will hear about peoples’ experiences and that can help you make important decisions”
Aliyah has been good to the family: Since arriving in 2013, the Rapps family has celebrated a bat mitzvah, two weddings, and the birth of four grandchildren.
“We just went to our oldest grandson’s chumash celebration and were invited to a special morning for ‘Sabba and Savta’ day at our younger grandson’s kindergarten. It’s very special to be part of these milestones and watch our grandchildren grow up in Israel.”
“Aliyah is the hardest thing we have ever done. Be prepared for major changes that come with it, take a deep breath, and remember to enjoy living the dream.”
Click on the event below to register for the NBN Mega Aliyah events. We look forward to seeing you at the event.