As happened with many rabbinical students of my era, I dreamed about the possibility of making aliyah after rabbinical school. And, like most of my peers with similar dreams, I opted not to. I have some regrets about that decision and I also have tremendous admiration for my colleagues who decided to re-root themselves in Israel.
A few years ago, my wife and I had an opportunity to purchase a small apartment in Yerushalayim. At this stage in our lives, we are only able to use it several times a year, although we hope, God willing, to increase that time as the years pass. I have no illusions – we are not by any stretch of the imagination living a full dream of aliyah. But we are, at least, frequent visitors, possibly beginning the journey that we deferred, and perhaps making it possible for other family members to more easily pursue their dreams of aliyah.
Being physically separated from Israel and trying to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day is a bit of a challenge for me. One way that I can make it more real is to think about it as a call to action for renewing our own ties to our land, language and country. That call to action can take many forms. For some, it means spending serious amounts of time on a regular basis in Israel. For others, it means connecting with family and friends in Israel more regularly. And still for others, it may mean becoming (more) proficient in Hebrew or really immersing in the rich and diverse contemporary culture of Israel.
One of my motivations for working so hard at this stage of life is very personal-it’s so that I can accelerate my timetable for longer stays in Israel. As we look back on Yom ha-Atzmaut, Israel’s 64th Independence Day, how does Israel call upon you to renew your connection?
Rabbi Hayim Herring