We arrived in Israel on a Wednesday, on July 14th, 2004. We were the living statistic of the 'average' Nefesh B’Nefesh immigrant that year...we were both 33 years old and we had 2.5 children.
And here we were. (We are on this video many times at times 1:46, 2:29, 2:45, 2:46 and more. Catch us if you can and those fuzzy balls.)
It’s almost impossible to consider that 10 years have passed since that moment.
It’s been a lifetime.
But it’s also been a blink of an eye.
And so, ten years later, one of the people who made Aliyah on our flight (and also happened to be from the Washington area) invited all of us to come together and celebrate in the Knesset.
Why the Knesset? Because after ten short years, he has managed to become a Knesset member, and Rabbi Dov Lipman wanted to share this significant moment with all of us.
As he opened the event, he said that he had considered cancelling in light of everything that is happening around us. But, giving it a great deal of thought, and speaking with others, he realized that this is exactly the type of event that needs to continue to take place.
And this is exactly the type of anniversary that we should be celebrating right now, as bombs fall on the South, as they are shot towards Tel Aviv, as we just came out of our own bomb shelter after hearing the siren followed by a 'boom' and as we call up thousands of reserve troops in our mission to protect ourselves and our people.
Dov told a beautiful story about how we, as immigrants, are often in a strange position. Our children experience events and milestones like getting called up to the Army that we simply haven’t experienced. And where we can’t offer advice.
The day his son went for his first meeting with the Army, Dov was at the Knesset. And there was a Holocaust memorial service in session and Dov was handed a card to read the names of those who had died in the Holocaust. And as his turn came and he prepared to read his card, his phone buzzed. At that exact moment, his son let him know that he had started his Army process.
Representatives from Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency addressed the group. We watched a few beautiful videos about Aliyah from Nefesh B’Nefesh. Then Dov had each family come up to say a few words about where they now live, what they are doing and what their Aliyah experience has been like, and he handed out certificates.
Then, we had the honor of meeting President Elect Reuven Rivlin. As an 8th generation Jerusalem resident, he said that he was in awe of us, that we are the true Zionists. As my 12 year old said to me later, “Mommy. I’ve never met anyone important who said that I’m better than he is.”
And that was my son’s take-away from today’s event. Rivlin stood before us and showered us with praise. We are the true heroes of Israel, he said. He told a story about the time period when the State was founded, when he was living here as a 9 or 10 year old.
Someone asked him what he dreamed of - what he wanted to achieve by the year 2000. And he went through a long list with us of things that he could have said, of dreams that he could have expressed. But what did he express instead? He said that he told the person that he dreamed and prayed that by the year 2000 Israel could have 2 million Jews.
And instead, by the year 2000, there were 6 million Jews here.
As part of his visit with us, MK Lipman and President Elect Ruby Rivlin presented a Teudat Zehut (Israeli Identity Card) to two people who stepped off the plane TODAY on NBN flights. We were all touched to see these two brand new Olim being handed their identity cards by our own member of Knesset and by the President Elect of the country.
|MK Dov Lipman (left), New Olah (middle), President Elect Ruby Rivlin (right)|
This is truly a country of opportunity, expansion, growth and love. Dov recounted, towards the end of our afternoon, that when he was much younger and was at a rally for Refusniks (Jewish Russians who weren’t allowed to leave Russia) in Washington he was handed a random sign. The sign said:
'Free Yuli Edelstein'
Today, 30 years later, Yuli Edelstein is the Speaker of the House in Israel’s Knesset (and our neighbor in Neve Daniel) and Dov Lipman serves as part of the same 120 member Knesset only 10 short years after arriving in Israel
And if that’s not the ingathering of Diaspora Jews and the fulfillment of all of our Zionistic dreams, then I don’t know what is.
We are so blessed to be part of this unfolding story. Yes, it’s a bloody, complicated, completely infuriating and incapacitating story at times.
But it’s also one of hope, family, history and future.
Ten years ago we brought our 4 year old and 2 year old here to be part of the Zionist dream.
And ten years later, their 9 year old brother, 7 year old brother, 5 year old brother and 3 year old brother all stand beside them, fulfilling the dream that we’ve had for thousands of years.
To live as a free people in our land as Jews.
Neve Daniel/ Eretz Yisrael
Neve Daniel/ Eretz Yisrael