I loved this opinion piece in Ynetnews today, written by an Israeli who has decided to move back to Israel from New York. The best quote:
Despite this never-ending comfort, life abroad accentuates the sense that you
don’t belong to the society in which you live; it intensifies the longing for
the good and bad of the people of Israel. Living abroad reminds you that only an
Israeli can understand what it means to be Israeli. Only in Israel will you
understand what true friendship is. And even if you did not serve in a combat
unit, you know that Israelis have a stronger sense of responsibility for their
Once an Israeli who lives abroad realizes this, the comfort becomes much less
appealing, perhaps because at some point you come to terms with the fact that
choosing comfort, success and freedom on the other side of the globe really
means choosing to be all alone. And for me, being alone is not happiness. So,
after a few years abroad, I decided that I am “making aliyah.” I am returning to
This reminds me of the feelings that I had just a few days after coming to Israel for the first time at the age of 20. I was learning in Jerusalem and we lived not far from the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva. A few friends and I decided to go there for Friday night services. I walked into the women’s section and went up to the balcony. The mechitza (partition separating women and men in Orthodox synagogues) was high so that I had no idea what the men’s section looked like. When it came time to sing “Lecha Dodi”, the sound of hundreds of men singing hit me like a tsunami. I quickly went to the mechitza and parted the curtain a bit to look down. I had no idea how large the yeshiva was. The overwhelming feeling I had was “I am not alone anymore”. I had become Orthodox in my community in upstate New York, and was the only religious Jew in my family (for awhile) and in my high school. Although I went to Stern College with quite a few religious women, I still felt part of a minority. After all I was living in Manhattan and surrounded by literally millions of non-Jews.
I did not know it at the time, but on that Friday night I was hooked. Today, twenty one years after making aliyah, I am still thrilled to realize that I am home.