Thursday, August 26, 2010

Becoming Israeli

As my El Al plane touched the ground in Israel and the usual clapping commenced, I realized… I have no ticket home, I’m not here as a tourist, I’m not part of any program or group, I am just here- here to live… forever (so to speak). And then I thought… so that’s it… I finally did it: I made aliyah. There was no more struggling with the prospect of it, what would it mean? What would I do? How could I leave my friends and family? It was a done deal, I was an Israel. I am about to walk off this plane, and receive my Teudat Olah (Immigration card) I remember shaking a bit. I was all alone but I wished I could dance in the aisles of the plane singing old Israeli songs and Jewish songs. I wanted everyone on the plane to look at me and say MAZAL TOV! I wanted to walk off the plane and see people waving welcome signs, and Israeli flags, and handshake Shimon Peres. But alas, none of this happened. As the plane came to a stop, I collected by things from the overhead, like everyone else. I got in line to exit the plane, like everyone else, and upon my debarkation for the plane, only one man with a small sign with my name was there to greet me. No one knew I was making Aliyah, so instead I was alone. The experience was almost anti-climatic. As me and the representative from AACI walked towards the immigration office in the airport, I saw my cousin- she had come to the gate (she works for the airport) and ran up to hug me and wish me Mazal Tov. You’re here! You made it it! ! I You’re Israeli now! And it was if all my loneliness and fears quickly dissipated. I’m here! I made it! I’m Israeli! My arrival isn’t anti-climatic, rather my arrival is simply my beginning.

3 weeks later, and things are only getting better. Yes, while it is true that I’ve also been struggling through the Israeli beaurocracy, I’m still so incredibly thankful that I’m here, and sure I made the right decision. I think that the decision to become Israel, rather than be born Israeli is something very special. I know I’ll never feel authentic, like a sabra of the land, but I’ve created the room and the opportunity to grow a connection to the land in a way a native born does not. I chose Israel, it did not choose me. My process of becoming Israeli is something I’m incredibly excited for. The prospect of talking about politics and religion in a setting where I know have an actual stake in, is so meaningful to me. I no longer have to hear and simply discuss what is happening in Israel, this is now my land too, in a more tangible way that it was before. Especially because last year I lived in Israel, but I felt as though something was missing. So even though the actual getting off the plane didn’t seem like the most excited event in the world, my move here and my days that have passed, have proved that from my beginning, things will only go up!

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