In mid-August we finally landed at Ben-Gurion Airport after two exhausting months in which we were entangled in a bureaucratic snafu. The Jewish Agency continued to demand mountains of documentation, and in order to receive the authorization to make aliyah we had to present papers proving that we are Jewish, despite the fact that my husband and I were born in Israel.
Our aliyah application was approved only after I wrote Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky a detailed letter in which I criticized the unprofessional manner in which the Israeli authorities were handling our absorption. I feel sorry for those olim who do not speak Hebrew and have to deal with clerks who wouldn't provide them with relevant and vital information if their lives depended on it. New immigrants should know what they deserve and what their rights are.
It was difficult deciding which items we would be taking with us and which would be left behind. Cramming our lives into 17 suitcases and five carry-on bags was an impossible mission.
In Israel, the daylight that wakes us up every morning is so different from the grey European sky we were used to. After 40 days of sleeping on mattresses, our beds were finally delivered this week. But it was worth the wait. The made-in-Israel beds are super comfortable.
The secretary at the HMO clinic was very courteous, as were the clerks at customs. On the other hand, the clerks at the Absorption Ministry, National Insurance Institute and Raanana's City Hall were not as helpful and asked for more documents, more proof.
Levy family at Ben-Gurion Airport
We are still trying to find our way in this beloved country, looking at it from a different angle and enjoying the small things, such as the line at the supermarket where people offer me advice on how to clean fish or cook the meat I selected. While at the supermarket I was shocked to see how much nylon is being wasted in Israel, and I also noticed that nearly everyone has a cell phone. After experiencing the severe recession in Italy, it was quite a astonishing to see shopping malls jam-packed with people buying like there's no tomorrow.
On Yom Kippur we visited the synagogue closest to our home along with a few other former Milanese families. The atmosphere was amazing.
First sukkah in Israel
Our son goes to school with 60 other new immigrants, an impressive number. It turns out that we are not the only crazy people around. The staff is attentive and helps the students adjust to their new surroundings.
We all followed Tzvi Yehezkeli's television series on Islamists in Europe ('Allah Islam') with great interest, having experienced in Milan the exact mood he was trying to convey: The fear, hatred and the Europeans' indifference and naïveté. This is what people in Italy are experiencing. The Italian Left has allowed radical Islam to operate freely. Dozens of Muslims pray on sidewalks in different areas of the city. There were even some acts of rape involving Islamists. The markets are controlled by immigrants and Arabs, and it has become very dangerous to go out at night or ride certain buses. But the Italians click their tongues and continue with their typical European lifestyle. Schools and maternity wards are filled with immigrants. One in every three children is born to immigrants. Europe is sitting on a time bomb. The hatred toward foreigners is growing, and it does not really differentiate between the various races and religions.
People warned me that I would regret making aliyah. But despite the difficulties (new beginnings are always hard), the apple dipped in honey we ate on Rosh Hashana was the sweetest we have tasted in years, and for the first time the blessing "to dwell in the sukkah" was recited in a sukkah that we had built, because in Milan one giant sukkah was erected at the local synagogue's courtyard.
Surrounded by the love of our friends and family, we are finally home.
Anat Levy (49), a mother of four, worked in the catering business in Milan. She returned to Israel with her family after 27 years in Italy