First Thoughts

Posted on September 20th, 2005

July 14, 2005

“Today is the Tomorrow that We Longed for Yesterday”

The words from one of my favorite songs could not have been more appropriate as we waited to disembark from the Aliyah flight. After years of longing, we were finally about to step off the plane as citizens of Israel. I thought of all the pain of leaving the family and friends we loved. I was anxious about what our new life would be like. At the same time, I felt so proud that we had finally taken this step – that we had done what we talked about so often.

The flight had been like no other. The plane was an all-Aliyah charter sponsored by Nefesh B’ Nefesh. Exhausted but proud, we listened as we were welcomed “home.” Just hearing the word “home” brought tears to my eyes.

We stepped off the plane into the sunshine and heard our friends screaming for us from the other side of the barricade. They had made Aliyah the year before and had inspired us in our decision. I cannot relate the feeling of joy as I ran over and jumped the barricade into their welcoming arms. Our new lives in Israel had begun.

September 20, 2005

It felt strange. Just two months ago, I was living with my family in the Maryland suburbs, driving carpools, coaching baseball, watching football. Now, I was standing in an Israeli army base holding an M-16 rifle.

My family had made Aliya to Neve Daniel. A requirement of living here is that you do shmira twice a month. One Wednesday evening, I was approached in the Bet Knesset and told to come for training the next morning.

I had never fired a gun in my life, so it was a bit intimidating that my first experience would be with an assault rifle and that my instructor did not speak English. I do not speak much Hebrew yet (I am in Ulpan Aleph), and I had to figure things out by watching the instructor and getting occasional translation from a fellow Oleh. The sun was hot, and the guns were loud.

Yet this is Israel. The beautiful land I live in has never come cheap. Doing shmira twice a month is a very small price to pay to live here, yet it is a connection to all those whom I admire so much who have shown the world just how valuable the land of Israel is to the Jewish people.

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