I had always considered Canada my home – it was the place where I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family and spent the first three decades of my life. But all that changed when, through an amazing miracle during a crisis pregnancy, I came to faith in my Messiah, Yeshua, and began to read the Bible. 
I read about how, as Jewish people, we had been exiled into all four corners of the earth – because of our sin – but that one day God promised to bring us back home. Every time I read the prophecies about the return of the exiles of Israel, my heart stirred within me to be part of this exciting end-time move of God.
At the time, I was a single mother with three children and did not see how I could possibly make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) on my own; but with God all things are possible. Soon I met my Polish-born husband at a Messianic congregation in Canada. He had the same deep desire to make aliyah and so together, even while just newlyweds, we packed our bags and went by faith – like Abraham – leaving behind our land, home, and family – mother and father, brothers and sisters – in order to go to a land that He would show us.
For the first time, we heard people clapping and singing when the El Al aircraft touched down at the Ben Gurion airport. Stepping off the airplane onto Israeli soil was an incredible experience! Seeing the palm trees swaying in the breeze, feeling the sunshine on our faces, and hearing people speaking Hebrew all around us – it felt like a dream and we were filled with joy.
“When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.” (Psalm 126:1-2)
Not really knowing where we were going, we hailed a monit (taxi) to haul us and our luggage to a hostel in Tel Aviv. The taxi driver asked where to take us; and when I gave him our destination, he asked me a curious question, “At Yehudiyah?” “Are you Jewish?”
When I answered ‘Yes’, he began to holler, saying, “If this is your first Shabbat in Israel, you don’t want to be in Tel Aviv! You need to be in Jerusalem!” To my utter shock, he then got on his cell phone and cancelled our reservation in Tel Aviv. Turning to me, he then asked, “So… where to?”
This was my first taste of culture shock in Israel. As a ‘nice, polite Canadian’, this kind of behavior would be unthinkable; but in Israel, our business is everyone’s business – as I soon found out. When my children were born in Israel, people always had opinions (which they often expressed – loudly) on how they should be dressed or fed or raised. Sometimes the entire bus would get into an argument over whether my baby was dressed too hot or too cold for the weather. A perfect stranger would tell me that I really should cut my baby’s fingernails.
I came to understand that, in Israel, we are one big family – our children are everyone’s children, our business is their business too. We laugh and rejoice together at simchas (joyous occasions) and we weep together in times of tsuris (trouble or sorrow). We stand together as one and sing Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, on both Yom Hazikaron (remembrance Day) as we weep for the soldiers we have lost in all the wars; and on Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Independence Day) as we rejoice in the miracle of the re-birth of the nation of Israel.
Yes, as with most families, we sometimes argue and disagree; but we also know that anyone would defend us with their life if need be. It came to be something I love and cherish about this special people.
We still had no idea where to go or what to do when we arrived; but I remembered that there was a pro-life (Be’ad Chaim) conference going on at Yad Hashmona, the Messianic village (moshav) near Jerusalem so we told the taxi driver to take us there. Dumping us and our luggage in the lobby, we went to the desk to register only to find out that they were booked solid. There was no room at the inn for us weary travelers.
We found a room at a hotel nearby and attended the conference. It was amazing to sing worship and spiritual warfare songs (Kuma Adonai) in Hebrew and to actually meet some of the pioneer Messianic musicians who composed these songs! Ted Walker invited me to share my testimony; and it was such a joy and delight to share with my people and to hear it translated into Hebrew.
Still, we were exhausted and had no idea where to stay that would not soon deplete our limited funds (that had been miraculously donated by a precious sister in the Lord from Barbados). I fell upon the ancient stones facedown and cried out to the Lord. Suddenly, a beautiful American woman appeared, asking if we had anywhere to stay. When I confessed that we didn’t even have a clue, she offered us her lovely, sea-side apartment in Netanya to us as free accommodations for three full months until we could settle our aliyah and find a long term place to live.
Wow! This was our first miracle; but on the first of many. We found out that God delights in faith; and when we step off the cliff with a heart full of faith, He swoops in to catch us and support us with His everlasting arms.
Making aliyah like this was really crazy (meshugah). I had only been to Israel once before as a tourist – on a Jewish synagogue youth tour – but I fell in love with the country; and for the first time in my left I felt like I was truly ‘home’. Even while, at that time, I was a secular Jew, living in the ways of the world, I had an awesome encounter with God at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. I experienced His loving presence as my ‘Abba Father’ welcoming me, His child, a daughter of Zion, back home. I made a promise to myself, to the people of Israel and to God, that one day I would return. It took me twenty years to fulfill that promise.
Of course, making aliyah and actually dealing with daily living in Israel is a much different experience than just coming on tour – as I was soon to find out! Staying in 5 star hotel accommodations, eating at delicious Israel buffets, and travelling on an air conditioned bus together with other excited young people and a handsome Israeli tour guide, did not properly prepare me for the challenge of making aliyah.
We soon found out that there are giants in the Land. Besides the culture shock, financial trials and language barriers (my elementary school Hebrew was not completely fluent), we also needed to face an especially formidable giant called Misrad Hapnim – the Ministry of Interior. Apparently, someone from my Orthodox Jewish family, informed the authorities that we were ‘Jews for Jesus’; therefore we came under investigation and were denied our rightful citizenship under the Law of Return which states that any Jewish person has the right to make aliyah.
So began a long and fierce battle, spiritually and in the natural with the Israeli bureaucracy, during which time were felt like we were ‘under siege’ – unable to work to feed our family. We could not receive health care or an education for our children. I had several miscarriages and our faith was stretched to its limits.
But through it all, God guided us, provided for us and sustained us – until in the end; the children and I miraculously received our Israeli citizenship. A clerk at Misrad Hapnim (who knew that we were Messianic believers) said that it would only be “over her dead body” that we would ever receive Israeli citizenship; but God is able. Even those things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
Unfortunately, my husband was never given the citizenship that was due to him as the spouse of a Jewish immigrant; and eventually he was even denied even a work visa to support his family. By this time we had two more children – Sabras – born in the Land of Israel; but my husband was not legally allowed to work. We found ourselves homeless, helpless and hopeless. My health had suffered with the birth of my last child, Avi-ad – a planned home birth in the desert (Negev) that turned into a life-threatening crisis with me being rushed in a ICU ambulance to Be’er Sheva to save me and the baby.
Finally, in 2003, with the baby only 6 months old, my husband was evicted from the land – given 14 days to leave the country. He been evangelizing throughout the country and the Israeli authorities wanted him out! We had no more strength, in our utter brokenness, or the resources to keep fighting the good fight.
We were all devastated as we headed back to Canada. It meant the death of our hopes and dreams and eventually it led to the dissolution of our marriage. But several years later, in December of 2009, God made a way where there was a way for me and my children to return to the Land where we re-established our home in a small village (moshav) in the Judean hills.
“Though I scattered them among the nations,
yet in far countries they shall remember me,
and with their children they shall live and return.” (Zechariah 10:9)
My eldest daughter (who originally made aliyah at the age of 16) found her ‘prince’, an incredible worship leader, composer and video producer; and they make their home along with their five beautiful children (my grandchildren) in the same village. It is amazing to see what the Lord is doing in the land – raising up a whole new generation of Messianic Jewish believers – worshippers, prayer warriors, and congregational leaders to shepherd the growing flocks.
Despite the challenges, living in the Land of Israel is amazing! We can actually witness the miraculous restoration of the Land before our very eyes – the desert is blooming with beautiful flowers and the cities are inhabited and filled with people! The land that had been barren and desolate for two thousand years – is now filling the world with fruit. We can literally “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
But we have to remember that the nation of Israel was birthed out of pain, tragedy and loss. Out of the ashes of the Holocaust, God has created beauty. I see Israel as a sign to the nations and to people all over the world of His mercy. Even though we may go through many trials and tribulations in this lifetime that may leave us barren and desolate – He can bring beauty out of the ashes and give us the oil of joy instead of mourning; the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.
What God has done for Israel, He can do for each one of us. He can turn our mourning into dancing and cause us to become trees of righteousness – that He may be glorified.
 See ‘Grafted in Again’ book of personal testimony or DVD ‘Because He Lives’
If you would like to read the rest of Hannah’s testimony, “Grafted in Again,” you can find on her website: https://www.voiceforisrael.net/