WHY ALIYAH NOW?
By Karen Eichinger
As I was walking down the street in Jerusalem today,
I thought again of an image a new olah shared
with me the last time I was in Israel. She told me that
when she had lived in the States, she felt like she
walked around with metal platelets on the bottom of
her shoes. When she was in Israel, she felt like with
every step, roots grew from her feet.
It was two years ago when I met this woman, and I had
just started a year of study at The Pardes Institute
of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Since then, I have lived
another year in the States and, two months ago, returned
to Israel, to live. Many people were surprised to learn
of my decision to return. I was living very comfortably
in Atlanta, all of my family and friends were in the
States, and the intifada continued to rage. "It
is so hard in Israel," people would say. "Maybe
you should at least wait until an easier time?"
As I was walking down the sidewalk and thinking of
my feet carrying me to the normal everyday tasks my
friends in New Jersey and Boston also do, I was overcome
by the recurring realization of just how easy my life
in Israel is. Here I am rooted. Here, life has meaning
not only from doing but from being. I have become an
active player in the unfolding drama of Jewish history
on a daily basis. Even mundane acts of life contribute
to the Jewish State and thus to the Jewish People on
a very basic level.
Throughout Jewish history the Jews have had tremendous
problems and struggles. This is no different today.
But it is only now that, after 2000 years, we have the
vehicle through which to fully control our future as
a People and realize our highest ideals. For some people,
these ideals are religious, for some they are cultural,
still for others, they are national in nature. Only
in Israel do we have the opportunity to work together
to create our destiny in this tiny piece of land
in this crazy place in the world.
Even just two generations ago, many of our ancestors
would have given anything to merely see the land which
so represented the deepest hopes and yearnings of the
Jewish People. Today, when you make aliyah you get a
free plane ticket and are carried comfortably to Israel
in a plane, bearing a Jewish star on its wing.
In good times and bad this is Israel. This is
the only place on the globe where a Jew can feel roots
under his feet, regardless of how many storms rage around
him. There is not an "easier" place for us.
In the past 2000 years, there could not have been a
better generation in which to be born.
For the past few nights, there have been recurring
sounds of gunfire in the distance. These are reminders
of the very difficult time Israel is enduring right
now. But, you know, even with sounds of war around me,
I have never slept so deeply.
My lot has been cast with the Jewish People and, for
me, there is no safer place.
Karen Eichinger grew up in Teaneck, N.J., graduated
from Wellesley College in l998 and then spent a year
studying in Jerusalem. She returned to the U.S. for
one year and worked as Assistant Regional Director for
Young Judaea in Atlanta. Karen made aliyah four months
ago and works in public relations in Jerusalem.
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