Rachel Wolfson

New Israeli home at last

New immigrant Rachel Wolfson writes about her decision to leave America, move to Israel

My decision to make Aliyah was not easy and I often questioned my motives for wanting to become an Israeli citizen during the months, weeks and days leading up to my big move.


Prior to making Aliyah, I spent five months living in Tel Aviv, interning with a company of my choice while experiencing the vibrant Tel Aviv lifestyle. This period Aviv certainly proved to be a life-changing experience and I never once regretted my decision to move to such an energetic and unique city. Yet while I loved living in Tel Aviv as a tourist, I knew that life would be different once I gained citizenship.


From a visitor's perspective, the Tel Aviv summer reminded me of a big party. I had never experienced anything like this before and I found myself overcome with excitement each time I explored the city. I was surprised that I could go to the beach and make friends with strangers who would later invite me to Shabbat dinner and parties. I constantly found myself bumping into people who I knew on Ben Yehuda and Dizengoff streets. I thrived off the unique and tireless energy of Tel Aviv, a city which never sleeps and lives life to the fullest.


Saying goodbye to mom


I found it strange that I finally felt at home in a city which was so far away from my family. In a way, however, everyone that I met in Tel Aviv seemed like a temporary family, allowing me to feel comfortable while being far away from home.


As my life in Tel Aviv progressed, I met many people who invited me into their homes and allowed me to welcome the Jewish Holidays with them. I quickly fell in love with the hospitality and kindness that I found in Israel and soon developed a sense of belonging. I left Tel Aviv with a feeling of sadness and I knew that I would have to return as soon as possible.


I came back to my home in Dallas, Texas and decided that I would make Aliyah if I still missed living in Tel Aviv. For months, I found myself constantly thinking about Israel and longing to go back. I was unsure, however, if I wanted to return as a tourist or as a new Olah.


Eight months had passed and I still found myself thinking about moving to Israel. One thing I missed about living in Tel Aviv was going to the gym or the supermarket and meeting people who shared similar values as myself. I longed for the sense of belonging that I had felt in Israel, a feeling which I could never find in America. I wanted to live in a country where I was surrounded by other Jewish people, allowing me to express my love for Judaism proudly and freely.


This is when I realized that making Aliyah was the right thing for me to do.


Once in a lifetime opportunity 

Words cannot describe how nervous I felt after my Aliyah flight had been arranged and all of the details were being finalized. A few days before my flight to the Holy Land, I arranged all of my belongings into three oversized duffle bags. My family planned a going away party and I said goodbye to all of my friends and relatives. I cried for days, but still, I somehow knew that I was doing the right thing.


I finally arrived at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport on April 28th. I was nervous that I would not know where to go after getting off the airplane, but someone was there to greet and direct me upon my arrival. I was taken to a room filled with tasty food, warm drinks and other new, hopeful Olim. I called my family and friends and told them that I had arrived safely and that I was well on my way to becoming an Israeli citizen!


With friends in Tel Aviv


I immediately felt the difference between living in Israel as a tourist and as a new Olah. For example, each place that I went, be it the bank or a government office usually required a 30-minute wait, a typical characteristic for Israel. However, I quickly made friends with the other new Olim at my Ulpan program in Haifa. It was reassuring to know that we were all going through the same process together and that we were there to help one another.


By now, each day is a bit easier. Everyone has been extremely helpful and I am already beginning to feel at home. I have been living in Haifa for a little over a week now and I am finally starting to learn my way around this beautiful city. I have spent hours walking, riding the buses, jogging along the beach and speaking to different people in order to learn my way around.


I also realized that the best way to learn Hebrew is to live in an area where many people do not know English. This will force you to practice your Hebrew with new people. Each day of this past week has certainly been an adventure!


The sense of caring and community has such a strong presence in Israel and I have never lived in a more inviting country. The people of Israel have proven to be one big community and they are never hesitant to lend a helping hand. I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to make Aliyah and I know that my experience as an Israeli citizen will be enriching, memorable and influential to other people considering Aliyah.


Before making Aliyah, I was scared of the unexpected and what life would be like as an Olah Hadasha. Now that I am here, however, I have realized that this was what I needed to do since leaving Tel Aviv. Moving to Israel is a once in a lifetime opportunity that each Jewish person should experience. After all, Israel is the land of the Jewish people and we all belong in this beautiful, historical country.


Rachel Wolfson, 24, made Aliyah to Israel last month with the assistance of Nefesh B'Nefesh and The Jewish Agency. She lives in Haifa today and may move to Tel Aviv later on



פרסום ראשון: 05.10.11, 20:02
 new comment
This will delete your current comment