Aliyah Journal

It’s been nearly a year since Lauri and I first started talking about the idea of making aliyah.  We were inclining toward making aliyah by January of this year, and by February we went “official” with it.  For a long time after we made our decision it was there as a decision, but still mostly in the back of our minds.  That’s starting to change, and pretty quickly.

The other night at dinner it occurred to us that it’s only a little over 7 months until we make aliyah.  Which sort of surprised me.  For a long time it was more than a year away; then somehow in my mind it got to a little less than a year, but I think my picture of the timing was kind of static, and it just kept seeming to be a little less than a year.  But when you get to seven months, well, that’s a LOT less than a year.

We’ve started working on all the practical details.  Thankfully we did submit all our paperwork to the Jewish Agency well in advance; our aliyah is officially “approved” which means they have all the paperwork they need.  Our next big milestone is we plan to submit our application for financial assistance to Nefesh b’Nefesh early next week.  As part of that process we had come up with a statement about how much assistance we wanted, and what we wanted it for, so we had to do things like get a quote for our “lift,” for moving our household goods to Israel.  I was somewhat surprised when it turned out that the quotes to move our stuff from Toledo to Israel were cheaper than what it cost to move our stuff from Vancouver, Canada to Toledo, which is a lot closer.  But thinking about it, it actually makes sense, for several reasons.  1) We’re moving somewhat less stuff, as we know our home in Israel will be smaller than our home here; 2) The fact that Israel is a lot further away is somewhat irrelevant, because our stuff is going by ocean freight, and ocean freight is a heck of a lot cheaper than truck.  I suspect if you were sufficiently patient in terms of waiting for your stuff, it would be cheaper to move your household goods by ocean freight if you were moving from say San Francisco to New York;  3) Some of the labor is done in Israel, where the cost of labor is cheaper than it is in the US; and 4) Since there are hundreds of families moving to Israel from the US every year, there are a few firms who specialize in that route, so there is some effective competition.

We’ve decided we are going to live in Jerusalem.  Lauri has now got two part time jobs lined up, both in Jerusalem, which is enough to say that’s where we should base ourselves.  It’s also where we wanted to live – Jerusalem is one of the most amazing cities in the world.  I’ve started networking and checking out possibilities, but unlike Lauri I don’t have any firm offers yet.

Today at lunch someone said “I hope things settle down before you get there.”  It’s not something I’m counting on.  Israel is in a bad neighborhood.  Things are going to be tense in Israel, security wise, for another several years, at least.  It’s a depressing idea, but not enough to deter us from our plans to make aliyah.  Terrorism is creepy, but it doesn’t threaten Israel’s existence – even with the war in Lebanon, more people will be killed in car accidents this year than will die violently from either crime, war, or terrorism.  I actually think on the international level, Israel is more secure than it was twenty or thirty years ago.  Yes, Iran has a nut-case for a president, but I don’t think their belligerence toward Israel will actually threaten Israel in a real way.  I think it’s mostly anti-Semitism for the usual old reasons: distract the public from domestic problems.  Having lived in Iran for a year, I think most Iranians are too sophisticated to be seduced by that line of BS for long.

We’ve still got a million things to do – like get our house ready to go on the market, and it would be a great comfort if I could have work lined up before we leave.  But we’ll get it done, Lauri is the master of to-do lists. 

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Barry Leff

Rabbi Barry (Baruch) Leff is a dual Israeli-American business executive, teacher, speaker and writer who divides his time between Israel and the US.

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