NEW YORK - When you hear Rachel and Simcha Gluck talk with bright eyes and cheery enthusiasm about their upcoming aliyah to Israel, it’s hard not to be convinced that it is worthwhile living in Israel.
The Gluck couple have earned the weighty title of the “10,000th immigrant” brought to Israel by the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization in close cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel.
“In America, we are living on borrowed time. This isn’t really our home. The one and only place a Jew can be a Jew without explaining anything is Israel. That is our true home, our history, and our holidays,” the Glucks explained.
Nefesh B’Nefesh was founded in 2002 by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart, and has since brought thousands of immigrants from North America, 99 percent of which have remained in Israel, and are living throughout the country. Wednesday, Rachel and Simcha will arrive in Israel along with 220 additional immigrants.
Rachel and Simcha. Soon in Israel
The Gluck couple are 26 and 27, and have lived until now in New York. They are leaving behind a house, money, and a supportive family. According to them, they are realizing the dream of many American Jews that don’t have the impetus to make the move: “In the community around us, people dream about moving to Israel … I am sure we are paving the way for them,” said Simcha.
Simcha and Rachel met a few years ago when Rachel came for summer break from studies at Bar Ilan University.
“I went to Israel to study. When I got home to study, I met Simha in a karaoke bar,” she explained. Love led Rachel to give up her studies in Israel and return to New York, but the two agreed between themselves to return to Israel within a few years.
“I said to him that I would agree to return to New York and marry him on condition that the day would come when we would return to Israel,” reminisced Rachel.
Simha added, “I told her ‘yes,’ but in my heart I thought many years would pass until that day would come.”
A year ago, Simha contacted Nefesh B’Nefesh and announced his intention to make aliyah. At the same time, they started telling everyone, “and all of a sudden, we understood, gosh this is real.”
The organization started working to find work for Rachel and Simcha before their aliyah.
You know that you are the exception. In New York alone, there are hundreds of thousands of Jews who aren’t considering moving to Israel.
Simcha: “The widespread perception of Jews living in the United States is that there is nothing to live off of in Israel, that you just can’t earn a cent. Everyone’s main concern is the economic thing. The first question people ask us is ‘what will you live off of?’ In addition, there is also worry about the security issue, and obviously the recent war contributed to that. However, people are always talking about moving to Israel. People just don’t dare do it, so they make excuses, and say, ‘We will move to Israel when we have enough money,’ or any other excuse. I am sure we will make it and we will live well.”
Where did you get this great love for Israel?
Rachel: “When I graduated from high school, I went for a year to study in Midreshet Moriah in Bayit Vegan in Jerusalem. Actually, this is something that many people our age do after high school. When I landed in Israel, I felt as I had never felt before. I just fell in love with the place and with the people. Even the soil in Israel has a different smell.”
Simcha: “When I was 17, I was a member of a Jewish organization that said that whoever sold the most tickets for charity would get a free ticket to Israel. I knew that I had to win this trip, so I sold tickets to all the people at synagogue, and I really won. Seven months later, I arrived in Israel to study in yeshiva, and I already knew that this is my home.”
Do you know where you will work in Israel?
Simcha: "Rachel is going to work in real estate, and I am going to work as a personal trainer in one of the companies in Jerusalem. On the weekends, I plan on working as a magician at children’s parties. When I worked in sales here in the States, I really had an effect on people, but I always dreamed of doing that to Jews. Now I not only get to do that to Jews, but I get to do it in Israel.”
And what do you parents have to say?
Rachel: “My father is very excited and supportive. My grandfather was a Zionist, and my father’s four brothers live in Israel. My mother, on the other hand, is very sad, because she knows she won’t see me anytime soon.”
Simcha: “My parents are very supportive, but obviously they will miss us.”
There are no last-minute concerns?
Simcha: “I don’t have any concerns. It’s clear to me that everything will work out.”
Rachel: “The only thing that makes me concerned is that chance that I will forever remain a foreigner in Israel.”