Jack- When are You Coming To Israel?

My baby cousin who probably does not like to be referred to that way as he must be almost 30 now emailed me again to ask when I would come out as well as to revisit whether I am still interested in making aliyah.

I haven’t finished my response to him in part because I wanted to send him something more than “I’ll be there ASAP and no I haven’t given up on making aliyah.

In 1995 when I was really on the verge of making the move he was a confused college student who was just starting to express an interest in becoming religious. I remember speaking with his parents about him “going BT” and whether or not they should be concerned. I offered to connect him with friends in yeshiva and others who could and would help him out.

And I really remember some of the conversations with him about what he wanted and what he was looking for as I had once been a confused college student too.

It is 10 years later, a very big 10 years in my life and it is hard to remember the freedom I had then to just up and move without regard to family. Then it was just a matter of working out some financial arrangements and packing up to make the move. It was January of 1995 and I had just returned from Israel.

I was involved in a relationship at home and chose to wait on making the move. I was engaged a short time later and now here I am, married and the father of two children. And now I look at Israel with confidence and regret. Confident that I made the right choice for me, proud of my children, excited about their growth and somewhat sorry that I didn’t force myself to explore this avenue.

Friends of mine have told me that they are happy that I did not go. They support my Zionism and offer their own support too, but they think that I would have volunteered for a combat unit. I think that this is a little silly and that since I would have been a 25 year-old oleh I would have been a little old to get into the units they feared I would chase. Not to say that it would have been impossible, but some of that thinking is like saying that if Cindy Crawford would have been Jewish and known me in college we probably would be married now.

Possible yes, probable? Probably not, but either way it is a silly discussion.

A couple of weeks ago a good friend asked if aliyah was a foreign idea now, if it was shelved. I said no, but that it is not something that would just happen overnight. There are so many more layers of concern and areas to work on.

First of all, the question of my children. Am I prepared to let them enlist in the IDF. Can I let them go. I couldn’t make the move and not do it, but it is so very real to me. That is, the chances of their being hurt.

I don’t expect that there is any difference in this POV from any other parent, but I am not talking about their children, it is mine. And yes, in some respects their blood is redder to me than other children. But there is a responsibility to the community.

So I cannot move without being able to say that my children will do their part. It is an obligation that I feel strongly about. And as long as someone else is facing the danger and challenges that I am currently not engaged in, it is part of why I am careful about what my role is relative to the peace process. Do I deserve a voice? Yes, should it carry weight? Not the same as those who live in Israel.

My cousin’s children are religious as is he. So as things stand I do not expect that they will serve and that is something that I have a problem with. I think that if you share the benefits you should share the risk, but that is a different topic.

But the question here is, what are my thoughts about making aliyah in the near future. And my answer right now is that while this is something that is near and dear to my heart, I don’t see it happening right now. Without some radical changes in my life, it is not something that is likely to happen in the near future. For now my role is going to be different.

I am open to the chance of things changing, the future is unclear and if the right opportunity presented itself I might jump on it. For that matter, I wouldn’t rule out the opportunity to work in Israel for some period of time.

In the interim I am left trying to find a way to make a trip back to visit friends and family. The biggest challenge is a combination of time and money. I can probably find the cash, but the time is harder to come by. If I use my entire vacation I can go for about two weeks. That is an awfully short trip when two days are shot just because of travel.

So right now I find myself watching and waiting. I’ll figure it out and when I do I am sure that I’ll write about it. Nonethleless in my head I keep hearing:

“If Not Now When?”

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3 Comments

  1. Jack's Shack February 8, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    Everything you said makes sense and I appreciate your comments very much. Right now I am doing what I can to put money aside and make some preparations. It is complicated and it is not a decision that will be made lightly or easily, but I am sure that things will work out.

    Thanks again

  2. Sarah February 8, 2005 at 9:01 am

    Best of luck in making this decision. It’s a big one. What does your wife think about it?

    As I’m sure you are aware, just as it is more complicated to make aliyah once you have small children, it’s even more complicated once your children are teenagers. So if you wait too long, you could end up in a “zone” in your family life where you can’t go anymore because it’s not fair to your kids, and then the kids grow up and settle in America, and you start saying “maybe when I retire . . . ” And then the grandchildren come and you can’t leave THEM . . . . and that’s pretty much the end of that . . . .

    I’m not going to tell you “Just bite the bullet and come on over,” because it’s too major a life change for that. There’s no “just” about it. It is not a simple thing to do.

    But I CAN tell you that there are plenty of us over here who would love to meet you and help you whenever you do come, be that on Aliyah or for a visit.

    PS For 9 years I never visited Israel . . . I saved the money to pay for my lift and aliyah-start-up-costs, instead. I figured that in the long run my making aliyah was worth more to Israel than a few tourism trips. And now here I am, living happily in Jerusalem. I hope I was right!

  3. Stacey February 7, 2005 at 7:40 pm

    “If not now when?”

    Good question. When?

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