Covid Shifted Their Priorities And Showed Them They Could Work From Anywhere, So They Made Aliyah

While this year of the world battling Covid-19 has kept many people in their homes, some people have questioned where they want their home to be. On Yom Ha’Atzmaut, we celebrate aliyah stories, and this year, the challenges posed by the pandemic made making the leap to a life in Israel all-the-more impressive. These families and individuals told us that the Pandemic helped push them to finally make the decision. Do you have an aliyah story or aliyah hope to share? Please leave a comment below.

Aron & Miriam White
New York City, NY

We both love New York City, with its rich Jewish life and opportunities, but have always been inspired by the thought of being part of the Jewish state, and building a Jewish society in Israel. With aliyah, timing is such a major part, and we felt that this was the right time. Miriam (from West Hempstead) had been teaching for ten years at Central (Yeshiva University High School for Girls), and Aron (from London) had just finished Semicha at RIETS, and our son Elchanan Yehuda (Chanani) is less than a year old, so we felt that we would be able to acclimatize to Israel without the challenges that come with moving later. We made aliyah in October 2020.

There was obviously a sense of uncertainty moving during a pandemic – Would we be able to find jobs when we hear so much about the financial challenges at the moment? Would we even be able to get all the paperwork done, and get settled in Israel when so many offices were closed? However, we felt that the pandemic has brought uncertainty everywhere, whether we would stay in America or move to Israel, and that we should still take the plunge and go for it. There were lots of tears when we said goodbye to my family, especially because with all the travel restrictions we weren’t even sure when we would next be able to see each other. (Thank God we were able to visit for Pesach, and please God Israel will be opening to Americans soon!) When we arrived in Israel, we obviously didn’t get to have the dancing crowds of people with a whole Nefesh B’Nefesh party :(, but there was one perk – because we were the only people on our flight making aliyah, we were given VIP treatment, and personally taken through the airport by the government officials! Even though many things have been closed, we love walking the streets and experiencing the intangible feeling of holiness that exists in Yerushalayim. We have great supermarkets, beautiful parks, and they are building so much that one can’t walk ten minutes without seeing a new apartment block or rail line being built! We also would never have thought that Israel would be the world leader in vaccinations, and we are excited that now so much is going back to normal.

We always dreamed of aliyah, and despite all the delays and headaches that COVID caused, we arrived in Yerushalayim, and simply feel so blessed. We loved our life in New York, but always wanted to move to Israel, where we can be part of this amazing Jewish state and society, and seeing Yerushalayim from our window each morning is an incredible blessing!

Aleeza Ben Shalom
Bala Cynwyd, PA 

My husband and I said when we felt unsafe in America or when we saw signs of the world changing and Moshiach coming, we would go. Both of those things happened. We always wanted to make aliyah, but we stayed for family in America. We also didn’t have a way to support ourselves. There was an uptick on my business when everything went virtual and it enabled us to have the financial support we needed.

Not being able to hug extended family over the last year was so hard. Especially parents. There was so much social distancing that we used to do backwards hugs as not to breath on one another. We also only sat outside which made the visits shorter since it got really cold before we left. Also, many of the challenges were overcome due to corona. For example our children didn’t have passports and my husbands was expired. Passport offices were delayed by months. We found someone who was helping to push passports through and got ours to us in 2 weeks. It’s been an adventure. We sent our two big kids ahead to boarding school. We sold cars, the house and left my husband’s business behind. We had packed up our house, shipped our lift and then we were told our dog couldn’t come because of Covid related stuff and the corona hotel [we would have to quarantine in upon absorption]. We started a petition to get the dog in. I wrote a blog post about it for the Times of Israel. [That led to getting] a canine lawyer and I wrote to the minister of aliyah. We spoke to a former Knesset member. [Finally, we] got dog in with us! All of the other dogs on our flight got in too. After our flights were delayed a week, we had to find temporary housing until our flight. [We finally] arrived on March 1st 2021, went to a quarantine hotel, then got kicked out of hotel since they closed and we went to [our new] house to finish quarantine.

We live in Pardes Hanna and we are loving it! The Pandemic is why we are here. We would never have been motivated without it. We couldn’t leave family. The Pandemic made it that we had to leave. There were no big good byes. We got to say good bye individually and socially distanced with dear friends. It was very meaningful and personal. Kids hadn’t seen friends in months so there was less of a ripping them away from their environment or school. Israel hasn’t seen new olim in months and we’re thrilled to see us and people told us how much chizuk we gave them from us coming now. Israel feels like Israel. No tourists. It’s very Israeli here and so wonderful!

Rivka Tauber
New York, NY

Israel was never not home for me, but the illusion that I can always visit and live in the states made me always dream of it but never act on it. When the word locked down due to the pandemic, I was in the middle of thinking of ways I can spend more of my life in Eretz Yisrael, because I was being drawn to the Torah of Eretz Yisrael and learning more . With the borders closed, I realized I was “locked out” and needed to get myself there.

So, in October 2020 I packed up and made the move, alone. Leaving my family friends and life behind in NY to begin a new one in Yerushalayim. It’s been challenging (to say the least) to meet people in middle of a global pandemic, but I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Looking back, American politics and an increasing feeling of unease around the rise of antisemitism also contributed to my move.

Seagal Hagege
Irvine, CA

We made aliyah due to covid. I’m 45 and was expecting my 4th child. We arrived in October. We were living in Irvine, California and knew we wouldn’t get to Israel during the summer. We knew what we wanted for our kids and covid shifted our thoughts about our community at the time, schooling and the feeling of isolation really made me feel like quarantining would be less isolating here.

The process of aliyah is totally [having] emunah and surrendering to the process. On top of the miracle of a pregnancy after loss, [I had] to find the same level of emunah and surrender to what I cannot control. Now giving birth here March 15th and naming this baby in Israel – it’s just been humbling and very emotional for me.

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