First of all - Thank You.
I have called Boston home for nearly
all of my 27-plus years on this planet, and there are many individuals
and organizations in this community to whom I will be forever indebted
for contributions to my life too numerous to detail in this space. Of
particular note are the three people closest to me - my parents, Ted
and Meda, and sister Becca for their unconditional love and support.
a couple of weeks, I will uproot my entire life and leave the only city
I’ve ever truly known well in order to make Aliyah and move to Israel. I
will leave family and friends behind in order to fulfill a dream, our
dream, the dream of the Jewish people. Growing up, I was never
that kid who knew what he wanted to be when he grew up – a doctor, a
scientist, a lawyer.
The opportunity to become an Israeli, to
live in and contribute to the Jewish culture and renaissance in the Land
of Israel, something I know my ancestors prayed for and dreamt about,
is my dream.
Those of you who know me well know that I love this
country, and that there’s a reason the 4th of July is my favorite
holiday (and not just because fireworks are one of my favorite things in
the world). But ever since I got off a boat on the shores of Haifa for
the first time when I was 15, I’ve felt a visceral, emotional attachment
to Israel that has never been present with America in quite the same
way (the trip with Camp Young Judaea in New Hampshire was designed to
simulate the experience of those on the Exodus and other ma’apilim in
the final years of the British Mandate). Like many aspects of the
establishment of the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish people
to our homeland, it defies a rational and logical explanation. The
closest thing I’ve been able to come up with is the title of a book by
the inspirational author, Daniel Gordis, "If A Place Can Make You Cry."
and a half years ago, I set out on another journey to Israel as a
participant on a program called OTZMA, an experience that was at the
same time similar yet also profoundly different to the one on which I am
about to embark. OTZMA is a 10-month post-college community service and
leadership training program run by The Jewish Federations of North
America, and sponsored by MASA and locally by CJP and the Boston-Haifa
Connection. I had the opportunity to live and volunteer in Ashkelon,
Haifa and Jerusalem and to appreciate the many ways these three cities
Since I was aware of the American bubble that surrounded
the 38 of us throughout the year, I made a concerted effort to get
outside of that bubble and to experience Israeli society as much as
possible, spending chagim and many Shabbatot with my family, some of
whom are sabras and others who are olim, some of whom are religious, and
others chiloniim (secular).
A crucial piece of this effort was
getting involved in the Boston-Haifa Connection, where I spent some of
my time volunteering during the three months I lived in Haifa. Not only
did I learn about all of the programs and activities
the partnership funds and runs, but I also experienced the true power
and value of the connection and the bonds formed between Bostonians and
Haifaiim. The partnership’s Young Leadership Committee, which had just
been started a few months earlier, greeted the four of us from OTZMA who
would be living in Haifa with open arms and friendship. They took time
out of their busy schedules to make sure we got to experience Haifa the
way residents see it, whether that meant coming with them to the best
bars and clubs on the weekend or for the best knafe in the German
As a direct result of the excellent education I received as an
elementary and middle school student at Solomon Schechter in Newton, I
speak Hebrew fluently with almost no trace of a foreign accent, which
enabled me to get to know my peers in Haifa and elsewhere in Israel on a
much deeper level than had I been forced to rely heavily on my English.
was while I was in Haifa that I first realized Israel was not only the
future of the entire Jewish people, but my future as well. This was a
feeling that stayed with me, and by the end of my year on OTZMA, I was
seriously considering Aliyah and went for an informational interview
with Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization tasked with Aliyah from the US,
Canada, and the UK. But for the same reasons that I can’t quite explain
my emotional connection to Israel, I am aware that it has an almost
mystical hold over me and that this was a decision I needed to make from
the US; if Aliyah was the right decision for me, it would be the right
decision for me to make after four, six, eight or 10 months of being
back the States.
And indeed it was and is the right decision for
me, and I have had enough time to think about it and analyze all of it
with a clear head. I’m under no pretenses that it will be easy. I’m
notoriously bad at goodbyes, and the process I have already started of
saying goodbye to family and friends has not been easy, nor will it get
any easier in the coming days, or even once I’m settled in my new home.
are many things I’ll miss about this town and about the incredibly
vibrant Jewish community here. At CJP’s Young Adult Open House Party
back in September, I stood at one corner behind the Boston-Haifa
Connection Young Leaders table and marveled at how the gigantic banquet
hall room was filled corner to corner with 50 different organizations
that cater to young adults, and dozens upon dozens of young Jews trying
to map them all out and find out what each is about. If you are young
and Jewish in Boston, there is an organization or group for you. I will
particularly miss the organizations I have worked the most closely with -
The David Project, CJP, the Boston-Haifa Connection, AJC and AJC ACCESS
and am looking forward to following their important work from Israel.
for me, the road from Boston to Haifa continues on to Jerusalem, the
eternal capital of our people. I have chosen it as my new home and am
excited to explore the opportunities that await me and to make my
contribution to the 21st century Zionism, for as we learn from Shammai
in Pirkei Avot, “Say little and do much.”
This post was originally published by the Boston-Haifa Connection’s blog on JewishBoston.com.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
I am excited to be re-starting this blog as I begin a new chapter in my life, moving to Israel as an oleh chadash in just a couple of weeks. In the year and a half this space has been dormant since the end of OTZMA, I've had the opportunity to contribute to The David Project's online blog, as well as writing and editing the Boston-Haifa Connection's blog. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and adventures, and yes, all those "only in Israel" moments that are bound to pop up along the way. Az Yalla!