Hamilton Ontario, Canada
May 29, 1994, 7:30 a.m., we were anxiously waiting for our friend to pick us up and drive us to the airport in Toronto.
Five months after our first appointment at the aliyah office in Toronto, we were making Aliyah!!
We made aliyah through the Jewish Agency, long before Nefesh B’Nefesh came on the scene. Many people complained how difficult it was to work with the Jewish Agency, but the truth is, we didn’t have a minute’s problem. We found them very helpful.
In those days, EL AL allowed each person making aliyah, three suitcases or boxes plus one carry on. We were three and we each had a carry on and 9 large boxes. One box had a microwave, another bedding.
When our friend arrived and saw what we were taking with us, the blood drained from his face. “Okay” he said, “let’s solve this puzzle and get everything and everyone in the car”.
After several tries, success! We piled into the car and we were starting the first leg of our journey home.
When I now think about all the boxes on the sidewalk, waiting to be put into the car, and the look on our friends face, all I can say is what was I thinking! We knew he just had a regular size car.
At the airport, we were treated royally. The EL AL staff members were wonderful. They treated us like first class passengers. The porter labeled our boxes aliyah and said he would get them to the airplane.
An EL AL clerk brought us to a private elevator to get to the boarding gate. Our papers were checked and we were the first on the airplane.
Truthfully, I was in awe. We had talked about making aliyah for years. Every year there was another excuse. Were we really making aliyah? Our two daughters who had been in Israel for years, our son-in-laws and three grandchildren were waiting for us to come home.
The time passed quickly and before we knew it the pilot was announcing our arrival at Ben Gurion in half an hour.
The stewardess asked us to remain on the plane and she would take us to the luggage area to collect our boxes and then to the passport control, so we wouldn’t have to wait.
Ben Gurion Airport, Lod, May 30, 6:00 a.m.
We had joined Tehilla, an aliyah group, and a representative was supposed to meet us and take us to get our Teudat Oleh. She was a no show. Somehow, we found our way, and made it to the klita office.
The clerk was so impatient, although she was holding our Canadian passports, she typed that my son was born in Hamilton, Soviet Union and Avraham and myself, Montreal, Soviet Union. When we showed her the mistake, she wouldn’t correct it and told us that we had to go to the Interior Ministry in Jerusalem and they would correct it.
The Arrival Gate 7:00a.m.
Finished with the paperwork, we waited for our children to pick us up. Needless to say, we were tired but very excited.
After many hugs and kisses and Avraham got to meet our youngest grandson, 3 month old Michael, today an IDF soldier, Naomi said, “show me your Teudat Oleh, I can’t believe that you really made aliyah.” I couldn’t believe it either. We had come home!
One of our sons-in-law had a pick-up truck and so it was easy to put all our boxes in the truck.
Our first home: Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim, Gush Etzion, where we lived for 6 years.
Our children were fantastic. They cleaned and painted the house and found second hand furniture for us to use until our lift arrived. Our 3 year old grandson Yoni, drew a beautiful picture and posted it on the front door. On the bottom of the picture it said ‘welcome home’!
We moved from very large hi rise-apartment in Hamilton to a small and cozy 55 meter house. At first, we tripped over each other until we each found our space. We lived 3 minutes from Naomi, Eliezer and our grandchildren. What a special treat to be able to visit them everyday.
Devorah and Hagai lived in the South, a hour and half away. We spent our first Shabbat, on the Kibbutz with our children and grandchildren. What a special blessing.
Naomi helped us at the Interior Ministry to get our paperwork corrected. What an experience. That’s a blog in itself for another time.
Life was good.
I remember our first grocery store shopping trip. It was a nightmare. I didn’t know what I was buying.
After a month, Avraham found full time work at the Kibbutz factory. He had to learn a new trade in Hebrew. He couldn’t speak Hebrew but fortunately, there was an American working in the factory and he helped with translations. Since Avraham is good with his hands, he learned the procedure quickly.
I worked in the preschool in Hamilton, and liked being with children. I found a part time job working with the babies in the Kibbutz daycare.
Eli-Chaim was 12 years old, and we registered him in the local elementary mamad [religious] school. They had a program for olim [immigrate] children to learn Hebrew. In three months, my son was speaking like a native Israeli. Unbelievable.
When we knew we were making aliyah for sure, I asked his Hebrew language teacher in Hamilton, to tutor him after school. It cost us a fortune, and he learned zip.
Several months after we had our feet on the ground, Avraham and I attended a morning ulpan [to learn Hebrew] in Jerusalem. We were fortunate that the kibbutz allowed us to keep our jobs and just work afternoons.
Three months after we made aliyah, we celebrated Eli-Chaim’s bar mitzvah at the Kotel. This was his dream.
Kibbutz life was interesting. Nothing that us city folk had ever experienced. One morning, when my son woke up, there was a cow looking at him through the window. Seems, the barn was left open and the cows escaped.
When Eli-Chaim was 6 years old, he asked my husband if he could get a dog. Avraham told him that we weren’t allowed dogs in the apartment but if we ever moved to a farm he would get him a dog. How little did he know his words would come back to bite him.
A neighbour had a pregnant dog and Eli-Chaim asked her if he could have a puppy. She told him that he should ask one of his parents to come and see her and say it was okay.
That evening, when Avraham came home from work, Eli-Chaim said to him, “do you remember when I wanted a dog and you said if we ever move to a farm, you would get me one. Well the kibbutz is a big farm and I know where I can get a puppy.” Staying true to his word, Avraham went and said okay and a couple of months later little Rocky, a gentle, black long haired mutt became part of our family for 15 years until he died.
Six years later: We moved to Modi’in.
Life was different in Modi’in. We rented a very nice new apartment but because the area was so new, the shopping centers they have today were just farm land. Modi’in was known as the city of the future and had gorgeous parks and green spaces.
Avraham kept his job on the kibbutz and commuted everyday and I worked at an after school center teaching English. When it closed, I started tutoring at home teaching English as a second language and ran an enrichment program for native speakers. ‘English with Miriam’ was born.
We lived in Modi’in for 4 years.
Going South: first to Netivot. We were five minutes from Devorah and Hagai and more grandchildren.
Netivot is a wonderful place to raise a family. The city and residents are hamish [warm]. We enjoyed the seven years we lived there. We had all that we needed at our fingertips.
Five years ago we moved to Yishuv Ma’agalim where Devorah and Hagai and 7 of our grandchildren live.
Once again we are experiencing a different way of life. We are Ashkenazi. This yishuv is Sephardic made up of mostly Tunisians and Moroccans, The main shul [synagogue] is B’nei Akiva Sephardic and the small shul is Moroccan. Over the years we have learned about the different traditional customs.
Once again, the residents were very accepting of us and a little curious of my husband's Ashkenazi English / Hebrew siddur.
There are 400 families and most people seem to know we are Devorah’s parents. Even people who live in the next moshav, will stop and give us a ride and ask me “how’s Devorah?”
Jews from all over the world make aliyah. Coming from Canada like we do or the United States, living in Israel is unique. Over the twenty-two years we have lived though many IDF operations and wars.
There was the second intifada, when the suicide arabs bombers were blowing up buses, restaurants, anything that maimed and killed Israelis in the name of allah. My son was in Jerusalem when there was a terror attack at Ben Yehuda and suffered from shock.
There was the second Lebanese war. The residents of the North were bombarded with missiles.
We live in the south, 9 km. from Gaza. We are Canadians, what do we know about war? Well, we have learned the different sounds war makes.The sounds of drones, tank fire, helicopters, jets, gun fire, wailing of the in-coming missile siren and rockets exploding.
We have experienced 4 wars and IDF operations since we moved to the South. When the siren wails, we have 15 seconds to seek safety. We have had Grad missiles fired at our yishuv. Some exploding not far from where we lived.
Rockets have exploded on the road where my grandchildren’s school bus travels to take them to school. I have seen my grandchildren being afraid to go to the park across the street from their house, because of rockets. Some of my grandchildren learn in bomb proof classrooms. Our youngest grandson was born during a rocket attack. His first sound in this world was the siren ringing and rockets exploding.
During the past 22 years we had much nachas and simchat in your lives. When we made aliyah we had 3 grandchildren. We have seen 10 more Sabra grandchildren born. We have celebrated bar and bat mitzvahs. We have watched our little grandchildren become young adults, attending and graduating from yeshiva and ulpana. Three of our grandsons have served or are serving now in the IDF. Another grandson is learning in Hesdar. Our oldest granddaughter served in Sherut Leumi [national service]. We had the honour of watching her get married and now we await for our first great-grandchild.
Israel, is the land of my heart and home. We have been truly blessed.
That’s all for now.
Feel free to comment and share.