Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First Meeting with Nefesh B' Nefesh...FAIL!

I'd like to be able to report that it went well and that we are giddy with excitement however, sadly this is not the case. I am very put off and underwhelmed with their choice of representative. Due to the fact that our English last name is extremely common, she didn't believe that we're really Jewish and even acted as though my husband's certificate of conversion was fake. Though she still couldn't deny it herself due to having it right there in her very own hands. However, that did not stop her from basically accusing me of being an anti-Semite and being delusional in thinking and stating that I am a Jew. is it that an anti-Semite dresses modestly and covers her head and is OBVIOUSLY and OPENLY Jewish?? Though she lacks the right to pass judgement on me, I will let Hashem deal with her as that is now between them. Anyways, besides that, we really didn't come away from the meeting with any further information that we didn't already have. Not to mention the fact that she refused to give us the aliyah planning book which was sitting right beside her on the table. So that doesn't really help us any either. At this point I figure I will need to go ahead and legally change my name to my Hebrew name and my husband as well. Apply for a new passport, change my driver's license, and so on. What a hassle that will become. That's just ONE of the multitude of hoops that we have to jump through. But jump through them we must, so jump through them we will.

I think I'm more angry and offended about the fact that was I accused of being something I am not and being denied that I am who and what I am than anything else. However, we are about to fix that. Despite living in an area where there are no temples or any other Jews, we will have to start breaking the rule of no driving on Shabbat in order to attend a temple about an hour away from here. The representative said that if a Rabbi writes a letter saying that I've been in the Jewish community for a year and am indeed Jewish, that then they will accept my status and can make aliyah. Otherwise, I could go to Israel with my husband but only as a permanent resident and a non Israeli and a non Jew. This of course is NOT good enough for me! After all of the garbage I have been through in my life I feel as though I deserve to be acknowledged for who and what I am and validated! I will not take anything less, nor should I. So starting this weekend which is Purim, we will be attending Shul with our three children and pray that they don't manage to humiliate us by acting in the same kind of manner that they do upon other public outings.

I strongly believe that the representative was hoping that if she set the bar high enough that we would decide that it couldn't be reached and would give up allowing more room for more "members of the Jewish club" Jews. Boy, is she in for a disappointment when we come back to them with all of our i's dotted and our t's crossed. As I told her, when it comes to making aliyah, it's not "if" it's "when". So we will do everything necessary and we will be boarding that plane to our new home..excuse the phrase..come hell or high water. I'm sure that my husband will have more to say about all of this on his blog once he writes it as he is just as angry and frustrated as I am. Without further is his blog.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why make aliyah?

I was brought up in the catholic church and we attended mass every Sunday. I never really understood the details of Catholicism but I knew it didn't make much sense to me to just re-do the last supper of Jesus Christ every Sunday. What else were we to learn about him if that's all they wanted to focus on. But being terrified of my abusive father I was too afraid to go against it so off to church I quietly went. Over the years, I tried to please my father by taking special classes at church so I could become the cross bearer. He seemed to be proud of me the first time I got to carry the cross down the aisle, however just a couple days later I of course had to endure another one of his beatings. As I got older and around age ten I think it was, I began to think to myself "If he's so religious and obedient to G-d then how can he keep beating me for no reason and never lay a finger on either of my siblings?". I then became very confused. The stories of Christ's miracles became to become more of just that..stories. I found myself slipping farther and farther away from christianity all together.

My parents divorced when I was 14. After a very long and nasty custody battle my brother went to live with my father and my sister and I with my mother. That was the time that my mother began to enjoy her new found freedom more than she should and when my depression began in full swing. The more I tried to reach out to my mother for help the more she pushed me away. The more I resorted to those I felt cared about me, ie my best friends and my boyfriend at the time. Though my mother still hauled my sister and I off to church every Sunday, I no longer bought into it. At 16 I became pregnant with my oldest son. At that time the youth pastor found out and basically condemned me for it. I asked for forgiveness but much to my horror they were not so quick to give it. It was then that my eyes were opened to the fact that christianity is more about preaching and less about walking the walk. From there on out, my view on G-d changed.

Over the years I began to doubt that G-d was even real or existed. But I still tried to do right by my son and raise him as best I could. My son's father was not in the picture because he became physically abusive with me too and I had him arrested after he hit me and it was then that I got a restraining order against him and moved away. I was a single mother for a long time.

Another reason I fell away from G-d and christianity back then was at age 2 my son suddenly regressed horribly and was finally diagnosed with Autism at age 3. I was so confused and angry with G-d that he could let this happen to me after everything I had been through. It was then that I wrote G-d off for good. I became agnostic. I continued to struggle with depression and self harming off and on for many years. I finally became fully healed from it as of mid to late 2008. When I met my husband. It wasn't because of him either really. I had been in counseling at that time and was finishing up and was still on my meds too but wanted to start weening off at that point. We married January 2, 2009. I began to re-think G-d's existence. I was always curious about Judaism as it seemed to always be so off-limits to us due to my parents' religious beliefs. I decided to explore it more as my husband told me about it and helped educate me. A few months later, I converted to Judaism and here I am. However, after having researched my family tree since then I learned that my relatives on my maternal grandmother's side where Jewish too. So I was already Jewish and didn't know it. How neat! :)

As my darling husband implied, I too should state my reasoning for wanting to make aliyah.

For starters, as was stated by my husband, Yehonatan, my side of the family has members to put this politely..aren't the best influences nor examples of sane and successful adulthood. I am determined to keep this from becoming a gripe fest so I will simply say that I do not like nor want to be around many of my family members especially the female ones. I can't trust them as far as I can throw them and that definitely is not the kind of influence that I want my boys exposed to or learning from.

While I dream of big things, I dream also of a simple life with some nice things and to simply be loved and be happy. I want my children to learn this too. In a place like America, we teach big (expensive) cars, big house, big money, and trophy women. It's disgraceful. I don't want my kids seeking these things as they journey into the world once the leave the safety of home.

My boys have already begun to have a sense of greed and wanting the expensive cars and more toys and lots of "me me me". Americans by and large are very self centered and in this society, it's what is taught. The golden rule is never upheld even by parents. I'd rather they learn that the best things in life cannot be bought. Rather than thinking that only lots of things is what will make them happy.

I believe that in order to give our kids the best possible chance that the best option for our family is one of higher moral standing. To surround them with people who care more about other people. Being around others who share our beliefs and our ways would benefit them better than what they are exposed to here. Another big difference is that America is all about money and less about the people whereas Israel is more about the people and not as much so about the money. The aliyah program proves it.

I also feel that being around other Jews full time would benefit my husband and I more as well. We would be able to meet others who share not only our religious beliefs but characteristics as well. We can share our shabbat with other families and provide our kids with much more of a community setting than what they have here.
I'm excited to bring up my youngest son up in a place where all he will remember and know is life in Israel.

I too long for the homeland. I long to be close to my own people and heritage. I want to be where no one will judge me for covering my head. Where I don't ever have to worry about my family being persecuted for our religious beliefs. I believe it's where G-d is calling us to be. Not to mention the beauty of the place. I also can't help but look forward to being close to the beach in Tel Aviv.

I know that the cost of living there is higher and that life isn't necessarily always going to be easier, however it will be better anyways. Of course I expect Israel to have it's own set of problems. Every country has some of some kind. No one is perfect. It's perfect enough for us though. I look forward to arriving "home" with my family in about 2 - 3 years.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gathering Resources

I hope this doesn't wind up becoming a tedious step by step series of events but I promise it will get more interesting with time.

We are gathering our resources now and plan to get in touch with Nefesh B'Nefesh as well as other organizations to help us plan this out.

Our time line for making Aliyah is 2-3 years. I know that may seem like a long time but I think that once we arrive on the ground in Israel, we will be glad that we took our time planning it all out so that we don't miss any major steps or details. For example, we plan to already have a bank account open and ready to use with a large amount of savings in it before we ever arrive, as well cell phone service who we found out that we can get started with a sim card from Talk 'n' Save This way we can contact family and friends to let them know we've arrived safely.
We also plan to have a place to live secured and a job ready and waiting for my husband. We will also try to get a car secured ahead of time if at all possible.

Shortly after we have arrived we also plan to file for name changes. I will be changing my name to my Hebrew name which is the name that you see here on this blog. We will also change my husband's name to his Hebrew name (both first and last names), my eldest son's last name, and my middle son's last name.

Ahead of time, we plan to get rid of and sell most of our things that we know that we do not plan to keep or take with us. Anything that we want and cannot take with us on the day of our departure, we plan to have someone trustworthy to us ship the rest of it to us. We will have it all boxed up, addressed, and ready to go ahead of time so that that designated person/party will only have to drop them off to be shipped. We will even provide the money to them so they won't have to pay out of pocket.

My husband, children, and I plan to take a "pilot trip" to Israel either in 2011, or 2012. We'd prefer to see the area and confirm our choice of where to live ahead of time. Not to mention so that the kids can see where we will be moving too and hopefully to ease any anxieties that they might have at that time. We also will be visiting the schools while there so that both we and the children can see what school will be like for them over there. This way they can get a first hand taste and feel of what life is like over there. Luckily, it's become very Americanized in Israel and so there will be several things that our kids should recognize which I hope will help make acclimating to such a new place to live, a little bit easier.

Another important part of planning Aliyah is realizing the enormous language barrier that needs conquering. So my husband and I are both beginning to learn Hebrew and hope to be fluent in speaking it by the time for our departure day arrives.

I also want to mention that the things that my husband mentions on his blog are also things that cross my mind quite often. Especially with regard to our children and what we hope that they will grow up and accomplish. I worry about their ability to be successful in this world. Especially when they can't even manage to put their own clothes into their laundry bin instead of throwing it into the floor. I also worry about their safety at school and in public as they get older. If anyone was to find out what religious preference our family keeps, it might not bode well for their safety nor ability to get jobs and such. I figure it's only a matter of time before people around here figure out what we are and begin to demonstrate their ignorance and hatred of Jews. Especially since my husband wears a kippot and I cover my head with head scarves(tiechels) and snoods(cauls). It's bad enough that we get dirty and confused looks every time we go anywhere. I suppose they think we're muslim or something. I don't know.

Living in Israel will prevent all of that and will ensure the safety of our family. As well as the freedom to observe our religious traditions and preferences.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Our beginnings to planning Aliyah.

For those of you who have found my blog and have chosen to share in our journey by reading each entry, I am happy to have you along for the ride.

I am a thirty year old Jewish woman and am married to the most wonderful Jewish man. :) (Whose blog is attached to mine which you will see on the right hand side of this page below followers and such.) We have 3 children, all sons, ages 13, 10, and 5 months old.
We have recently been researching and contemplating making Aliyah to Israel. After much debate we have decided that it's what is best for our family in the long run. Even though I'm sure that the actual trip to Israel itself will be chaotic. I myself already have a passport as does my oldest son. We will be applying for one for my husband and other two children. I've begun putting a list together of everything that we need to get in order for the beginnings of our plans. This is literally day 1 of our great journey so please bear with me.

My own feelings about making Aliyah were that of apprehension, uncertainty, and yet excitement. I feel that living in Israel among our own kind will help us to have more resources and accountability. I do have my concerns though of course. My oldest son is autistic with a diagnosis of PPD. Which fortunately now has become more like AS (Asperger's Syndrome) than anything else. As I have come to find out they have excellent resources and help for children with special needs such as mine. One uncertainty I still have though is how he will handle the transition from the type of customs and ways of life that he is used to and has known since he was a little baby. But we are hoping that with good communication along the way that he will not have such a hard time of it.
As for the my family as a whole, I want a better life than what living here in Georgia, USA, has to offer. Not to mention the frightening realization that the President which my husband and I voted into office has turned on us and we feel that we can no longer trust where this country will be even in 2-4 years time. As well as our financial survival. Whereas things are far more stable in Israel and much safer for us as they will never come after us for being Jews.

I myself, desire to live an easier and more stable and wholesome life around those who understand us instead of, for example, looking at me strangely in the grocery store for having my head covered. This is the beginning and first days of our journey to a new land and a new life. :)