Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Aliyah Reflections - 3 Years Later...

This past Shabbat, on the 6th of Shvat, my wife an I celebrated our 3 year Aliyah anniversary.

It really is amazing how quickly time flies by. It really feels as if I have been living here for much longer than 3 years, just as it feels as if I have been married to my wife for much longer than the 3 and a half years that we have been together (I can hardly remember my bachelor days). Thankfully, in these two instances, I have no burning desire to return to what once was.

In the eyes of my wife (and I tend to agree with her), these two ideas - that of marriage and living in the Land of Israel, are closely related - and I will return to this point in a moment.

I gave much thought as to how best to relate to my 3rd Aliyah anniversary. 3 years represents some type of chazakah - permanence - in the Jewish sense, and thank G-d, I do believe that in the last 3 years my wife and I (along with our beautiful daughter) have planted strong and deep roots that will allow us (and hopefully all future generations that will come from us) to live in the Land of Israel - in the Jewish State of Israel - as proud, passionate and committed Jews.

Our 1st Aliyah anniversary was an easy one to celebrate. After all, it was our first year in Israel. We had returned home. We had begun a new life - with all the joys and challenges that go along with that.

Our 2nd Aliyah anniversary was, in many ways, even more special (at least in my eyes) than our first. During our 2nd year in Israel we moved into our new home (that we are privileged to own) in a wonderful community where we are surrounded by many friends. Even more significant, we were blessed with our 1st child, who was born in Jerusalem - the first child in my family to merit such an honor in who knows how many generations. It was also during this year when I switched from my English name - Jason - to my Hebrew one - Ze'ev.

Looking back at our 3rd year since having made Aliyah, there is nothing specific that stands out that really merits any type of celebration. Thank G-d, our daughter continues to grow, and she truly is a gift from Hashem (even though my wife and I still aren't exactly sure how our daughter ended up with blond hair and blue eyes while we both have brown and brown).

Also, over the last year, I began using the Jewish calendar (whenever possible) in place of the Gregorian one, which serves as a compliment to my having adopted the use of my Jewish name a year earlier. I have found that my decision to begin using my Jewish name along with primarily using the Jewish calendar has really helped to strengthen my connection to my People, Land and Torah. Additionally, two significant events happened over the course of the last year: 1st, I started my blog, and 2nd, the Jewish community in Israel surpassed that of the United States to become the largest in the world.

However, this past year, on the whole, has been a difficult one. In the last 6 months, thousands upon thousands of Jews have been expelled from their homes at the hands of the 1st Jewish government and army that the Jewish People have known in 2,000 years, with no end to the retreats and expulsions of Jews from the Land of Israel in sight. At the same time, the government turns a blind eye to the ongoing threat to the very existence to the continued existence of the State of Israel that our Arab neighbors (from within and without) pose.

Yet, in many ways, I feel, looking back at my 3rd year in Israel that it has been this year, challenges and all, which has been the most fulfilling of the 3 years. It was over the course of the last year that I truly felt as if I was living in the center of the Jewish world, watching Jewish history play itself out before my very eyes, and in being here, having the ability to play some role in shaping the events central to the Jewish People and State.

Personally, I can't even imagine what it would have been like to still be living in NY as the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and the Shomron played itself out, or during the frightening events that occurred at Amona this past week; to be 6,000 miles away from home, watching and reading about these tragic events, but knowing that there was very little that you could do about anything - short of prayer or charity - which aptly sums up 2,000 years of Jewish life in the Exile.

This leads me back to my wife’s comparison between marriage and living in the Land of Israel. Speaking from experience, neither marriage nor life in the Land of Israel is always perfect - there are bumps along the way, and challenges that must be overcome - but if a husband and wife are committed and dedicated to each other, knowing in their hearts that they need each other in order to be complete and to fulfill their shared mission in life, then they will ultimately be able to overcome and build a strong and lasting relationship.

Similarly, life in the Land of Israel for the Jewish People is not always easy, but so long as we remain committed to who we are as a people, understand why it is that we continue to exist, and recognize that it is impossible for the Jewish People to fulfill their collective destiny in this world anywhere but in the Land of Israel, then ultimately we will be able to overcome all of the obstacles and challenges that stand in our way and live our lives as proud, passionate, knowledgeable and committed Jews in the Land of Israel - in the Jewish State of Israel.

It's been a great 3 years, and while I know that there are still many challenges and obstacles ahead, both for myself along with the Jewish People, I can't imagine being anywhere else - not now and not ever.


Congratulations, Ze'ev - on your Aliyah anniversary, on your marriage, on parenthood, and on your excellent blog! May all these things - and more - continue to bring you happiness.

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Wed Feb 08, 03:25:00 PM GMT+2  

Your outlook is quite inspiring - from great struggle comes great rewards. I hope each year continues to give you milestones to celebrate, and that many follow your lead.

By Blogger Shoshana, at Wed Feb 08, 03:35:00 PM GMT+2  

Congratulations on the anniversary - may you and your family flourish in The Land, and let us follow your lead.

By Blogger GregoryT, at Wed Feb 08, 04:43:00 PM GMT+2  

Don, Shoshana and Greg - thanks for all the words of encouragement!

Greg and Shsoshana. hopefully you'll have your own Aliyah anniversary to celebrate i nthe future.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Wed Feb 08, 05:12:00 PM GMT+2  

Mazal tov on your anniversary.

By Blogger Jack's Shack, at Wed Feb 08, 11:21:00 PM GMT+2  

wow, 3 years.. i long for when i will be able to say 3 weeks. anyway, mazel tov on the anniversary, and may it be yet a reminder of the many more that shall come. NYIJ.

By Blogger Tovya @ Zion Report, at Thu Feb 09, 01:54:00 AM GMT+2  

never say it seems like you've been married longer than you have ;)

great post! mazel tov!

By Blogger Pinchas Floyd, at Thu Feb 09, 07:28:00 AM GMT+2  

Very nice thoughts. For some reason, Michal and I never made a big deal about our aliyah anniversary. To us it just seemed as a natural evolution and not something requiring commemoration, though I appreciate your sentiments. In regards to the connection between marriage and Israel all I can say is: May he who created joy and happiness, bride and groom...quickly make heard in the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem the sound of joy, the sound of happiness, the sound of the groom and the sound of the bride!

By Blogger Danny Hershtal, at Thu Feb 09, 10:14:00 AM GMT+2  

Wonderful post.
We've been here since 1970, and I just can't imagine any other life. And we're in Shiloh since 1981, also, impossible to imagine ourselves anywhere else.
But it's funny; I admit that in some ways we'll never be "Israeli," but I never felt truly American.

Times are tough here, and we all have work to do.

By Blogger Batya, at Sun Feb 12, 06:57:00 AM GMT+2  

Mazal Tov on the anniversary and all the milestones you have marked.

By Blogger ifyouwillit, at Sun Feb 12, 03:34:00 PM GMT+2  

Mazal tov on your Triniversary!!!!


By Blogger Jerusalemcop, at Sun Feb 12, 09:24:00 PM GMT+2  

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