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Unstuck: The Aliyah Chronicles

May 8, 2009 | by Miriam (Tara) Eliwatt

Move to Israel? Are you nuts?

I didn't always have it in my life plan to move to Israel. Neither did my husband. In fact, growing up as secular Jews, neither of us grew up with Israel in the forefront of our minds (or even in the back, for that matter). Israel was a nonentity. That is until eight years ago when we both (separately) spent a year studying in Jerusalem.

It was easy to live the student's life in the spiritual hot spot of the Jewish world. We were children, being coddled and taken care of as we delve deeper into our Jewish identities, learning Torah daily.

Dreaming of a spiritual life in Israel was inevitable. And then we got married and moved to New Jersey.

Our feet were stuck like glue to the wheel, and we couldn't seem to break free. We stopped growing.

With great excitement, we stepped on to the wheel of life and have been going ‘round and ‘round ever since. A new baby, a new job, a new apartment, a new baby, a new job, a new house, another baby, another job. And as the wheel continued to go ‘round and ‘round, six years passed before us. We became deeply entrenched in our lives and community, and…we hit status quo. It was a nice change. But then we stopped moving, stopped growing. Our feet were stuck like glue to the wheel, and we couldn't seem to break free, resolving ourselves (subconsciously) to going around and around and around…

Until, on a whim (well he really had been thinking about it for awhile, but to me it was a whim), my husband said to me --

"Why not move to Israel? What are we doing here? We belong in Israel!"

I laughed at him, shaking my head as if to say, "Are you nuts?" That physical response was loaded with reasons why we couldn't pack our bags and move to the Holy Land: leaving our family, lack of livelihood, the polarization of Israeli society, the educational system, security, etc.

But my husband kept on talking. His family had moved to Florida, and my family, living a few hours away, was not involved in our lives on a daily basis.

"It's time to live for the future of our own family!" He was practically jumping up and down. "I could run my business from Israel… The children will speak Hebrew! They will see the land, the hills, where our forefathers walked. They will understand and see that they are connected to a great history, a timeline, a people. The roads will be empty on Yom Kippur… " He ignored the other issues, mimicking what he'd heard so many others say, "The future of the Jewish people is in Eretz Yisrael!"

Bogged down in diapers and dishes, I could not latch on to intangible ideas. I could only think in practical terms. "Sweetheart, we don't speak Hebrew. How will I communicate with my children's teachers? And where would they go to school?"

"Details, my dear. Just details." He smiled confidently.

We were entering our seventh year of marriage, and I was a bit restless. I just didn't consider that a move to Israel was the next step.

"Honey, I'm not deciding to uproot my entire life and move across the world in one day. This requires a lot of thought." While my husband fueled the dream and the idealism with his enthusiasm, I spent many months evaluating the practical matters, speaking to rabbis and new immigrants, as well as various organizations. I looked for people who would tell me not to go. After all, change is hard.

But nobody did. Our profile was solid.

And so, with a lot trust in the Almighty, I concluded that we had enough reasons to try out Israeli life (and not enough to not try it). What else could I say? I knew in my heart that Israel was a special place. No one had to convince me of that.

We know one thing for certain -- spiritually, we will grow.

The more we both envisioned living in Israel as a reality, the more we realized how stuck we were here. In fact, a big move like this, with all its expected challenges and struggles, would certainly pull us off our "wheel." While the status quo would be lost, we would grow into stronger people. I appreciated that idea.

And now, as we continue to discuss with some fear and indecisiveness communities and schools for our children, we know one thing for certain -- spiritually, we will grow.

As we begin our eighth year of marriage, we are preparing to jump off the wheel into the unknown. We are arranging our lives to move across the world to join the Jewish people in our homeland. We are purging our home of junk, planning for challenges, and readying ourselves for growth. We hope to make a little bit of history.

Israel is in the forefront of our minds.

And now, so is packing.

I look forward to sharing with you our Aliyah adventure on

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