This week's blog post is written by Alan, a Yahel Social Change Fellow living in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood in Rishon LeZion.
In this blog I want to explore my relationship with making Aliyah. I want to express the journey of my feelings, emotions, and expectations before I got to Israel, the process of being here, and ultimately my decision to continue living in Israel.
I think my story starts four years ago when I first came to Israel with Taglit. It was a nice journey -- I visited beautiful landscapes and so on. I remember that my father told me that the first time he spent time in Israel he felt that it was like his home, a strange feeling that connected him to his history, his family, and his culture. I have to be honest, it didn't happen that way in my first trip. It took me another trip to figure out the real eretz. I mean, I enjoyed my trip but it seemed so artificial and superficial. I wanted to know more.
In the Taglit trip I heard about Masa and I really wanted to be in Israel for more time, but at the time I was in the middle of my degree and didn't want to pause my studies. After I finished my degree I started to search for more information about programs and the Yahel Social Change Fellowship presented as the best option for what I was looking for. I always wanted to learn English, and definitely spending nine months with a lot of English native speakers is the best option to learn a language. Also because of the support, both emotional and economical, that I learned this program gives to people. Finally, it was important for me to know more and involve myself in the social change world, particularly in such a small community like Ramat Eliyahu.
In the meantime, I researched more about living in Israel and about making Aliyah. The more information I got, the more I wanted to leave my country and experience another way of living. I remember that in the months before I got on the plane to come to Israel for Yahel, I was thinking that moving to a new country was going to be a great experience -- but at a certain point it was sort of an illusion, because I’d never actually lived in Israel before and I didn’t know what to expect. When the program started, my doubts about my choice cleared.
Of course it was tough to speak two different languages for me: both English and Hebrew. And it was also difficult to adapt to a different culture as the Israeli one. But over time, everything fell into place, and after some months I started to feel comfortable again. I was still thinking about aliyah during my program, grappling with several doubts and insecurities. But at one point I had to make a choice and I started to prepare my papers for Aliyah.
Another piece of my decision I want to share is that in a fellow-led “Visions” learning day, we dedicated a session to Aliyah. It gave me a lot of information and helped me to research more things about moving to Israel, and ultimately confirmed my desire that I wanted to do it. The Coronavirus arose and the procedures got very complicated. The Jewish Agency told me that because I'm already living in Israel, I have to start the papers three months before the program finishes. The offices were closed, but fortunately this week they reopened and I finally received a call to present the papers.
My journey was complex and full of uncertainty. It is never easy to make such a big choice like this, but I’ve been thoughtful and feel that this is the right step for me. I’m really looking forward to establishing myself in Israeli society, developing my interests and my working projects, and continuing to know and change the environment from within.