It’s been quite a journey, this 24th year. I quit a job, moved out of KC, joined a teaching fellowship in Israel, traveled to Greece and made my way back to the states in one piece. All of the experiences, the conversations and lessons learned culminated into a few interesting blog posts (in my opinion) and a time in my life that I could have never expected. But there is something that was happening through it all, something I wasn’t sharing. It was a gut feeling tugging at me, an incessant voice saying, “You know you want this.”
My dad said it best, stating in his goofy, matter-of-fact voice, “Well, I thought you would fall in love with an Israeli man…turns out you fell in love with the country instead.”
I fell in love with Israel, with its people, its geography and its endless ellipsis (I have learned that with every aspect of Israeli life, there is always an ellipsis). And after sorting through the warm and fuzzy feelings of love and the gut feelings that seemed to always find their way into my mind, I decided to do something about it.
The process was long and detailed, with many conversations, emails, and phone calls talking through possibilities and logistics, but with each question eventually answered, the closer the idea of becoming an Israeli citizen came to be my reality. So, this September, only a year after first landing in Israel for my fellowship, I will take my one-way flight to Tel Aviv to set up shop indefinitely.
I am extremely excited to start this next step in my life, and my mind is buzzing from the endless possibilities. But what I’ve learned is that sharing this excitement is more difficult than I thought. For this reason, I did a Q and A (with myself) to make things a little easier. Hopefully with these commonly asked questions I can help those that are interested understand my reasoning behind becoming an Israeli citizen.
If you’ve frequented my blog at all in the last year, you probably wouldn’t be asking this question. Every week I would write about loving the country, the people and its many intricacies that continually fascinate me. To be brief, Israel is home to me. It feels like my place, my center and I feel something very special when I am there. Although I know this feeling could change, for now at least, I am rolling with it and seeing where the tide takes me.
What made you finally want to do it?
There wasn’t one particular instance that stands out as the moment. The decision came as a series of smaller choices, little moments of learning and understanding that lead to an increased interest in becoming a citizen of Israel. Looking back, I’d say I had a gut feeling that I would end up moving to Tel Aviv, but I knew I had to give it time. After going to educational sessions, researching online and talking to friends, I was slowly reassured that my gut feeling had actual weight to it.
Aren’t you scared?
To me, it’s an odd question. Am I scared of what? Being bombed or dying in a terrorist attack? Unfortunately, Israel has such a skewed way of being reported on the news that it is not surprising most people fear for me when I tell them I am moving. But alas, the media strikes again with its highly sensitized reporting. Yes, Israel is at the center of very extreme religious and political issues, but life does not always center around this fact for those living in Israel. Although I have not experienced the country in a time of war, I can say with certainty that I will not be living in fear of my life each and every day as one living outside of Israel would expect.
Another thing, which should come as no surprise, is that shit happens everywhere. Shootings, stabbings, bombings…the world is a fucked up place. That fact will NOT stop me from doing something that I believe will make me happy.
Do you have to join the army?
No, I am at the age where Israel does not require me to complete a service in the army. I do have the option to join the army but I am deciding to opt out and continue to move forward in my professional career. Although it is somewhat frowned upon to bypass your service, based on the fact that I am a new citizen and I spent the last year volunteering in the country, I believe I can feel proud of what I have done for Israel and Israelis will (hopefully) feel the same.
Will you have to give up your American citizenship?
I will have duel citizenship. Two passports, yo!
What will you do when you get there?
Great question! For the first few months I will be taking an intensive Hebrew course to gain a stronger foothold on the language. Although I can get by perfectly fine in Tel Aviv with English, my goal is to experience true immersion. It will be a slow process but one that I am ready and willing to take on.
After lessons conclude, I will be on the job hunt just like any other unemployed millennial!
What do your parents think?
It’s a bit of a mixed bag with Mom and Dad. They are extremely understanding and supportive. After their trip to Israel and seeing me in my element, they understand why I want to move there in a more permanent fashion. But no matter how perfect Israel is, it’s still across an ocean. This factor causes all of the feelings that you could expect a parent to feel when a child leaves the country. I am very lucky to have their love and support through this complicated, life-changing process.
How long will you be there?
To simplify this question, I am saying indefinitely. For now, I am considering this move a huge transition in my life that I assume will be beneficial to my career goals, my social network and my overall happiness.
Hopefully with these frequently asked questions, you were able to learn a little more about the process and experience of making Aliyah (becoming an Israeli citizen). Feel free to contact me with any questions or comment below if you feel so inclined.