Messianic believers in the land also have our own inspiring and even miraculous stories to tell about moving here. Hence we are delighted to present a new weekly feature in Kehila News, “Why I Chose to Make Israel My Home.”
Coming from a Messianic home, attending a congregation regularly, and being part of an Israel-minded youth group, may have given me a small framework for the understanding that Israel was the homeland of the Jewish people and the land of the bible, but I can’t say that the thought of living there was not part of the fabric or DNA of my life while growing up. Nonetheless, I remember feeling the need to come to Israel’s defense during my college years, as many of my Jewish and even non-Jewish friends would get into impassioned discussions as a result of media coverage or news they’d heard or read.
So, perhaps it wasn’t odd that when I got wind of the fact that a number of my Messianic Jewish friends were planning a trip to Israel, that the idea of going became very intriguing. I had just graduated from college in 2003, and had no reason not to join this month-long tour which sounded really cool to me.
I will never forget how I began to process all I was seeing and feeling once I got here. It didn’t take me long to understand the sense of belonging that I seemed to be lacking elsewhere. In fact, I could actually look at many of the cultural differences with appreciation and insight into what makes this amazing country – not only tick, but also survive as it does. One example was the constant honking of cars. It is absolutely ever-present here, and I began to comprehend that this particular type of social conflict is not meant to be one of anger or rage but rather an emphatic way of stating, “Hey, let’s get things moving here. We’ve got to push forward.” That made sense to me.
As the days went on, our small tour group of less than 20 began to have regular conversations about the actual idea of making a life in Israel. Some began to think of their obligations at home – good jobs, family and other attachments which, in their mind, precluded them from seriously considering a move, but, one thing was for sure, it seemed as if everyone had the need to internalize whether or not they should live in this amazing country.
The conversations spilled over into much of our daily activity as we visited many local believers and leaders in the land who would challenge us to consider immigration to Israel. Even our non-believing taxi drivers, once they would hear our American accents, would ask us, “So when are you moving?” The call was coming from multiple directions.
I, myself, began to think about my own life and whether or not this would be a good move for me. At that point, I, too, already had a job but not related to my particular degree. So my personal attachment was, perhaps, less than some of the others.
Yet, it wasn’t until one evening trip to the Negev Desert that I began to conceptualize this message in a deeply, personal way. It was evening, and the sky had already turned dark. The Negev, far away from the big city pollution and large-scale population of the country, is the perfect place to see a starry night in all of its majestic array.
As each of us lay on the ground, listening intently to our riveting guest speaker, who was relating the promise given to Abraham, that his descendants would be as great as the stars, he said, “You, you are all those stars! Each one of you is an extension of that promise.” It was at that very moment, that my I could no longer hold back. My heart was bursting, and I began to weep and finally understand that I was supposed to be part of this great nation – part of that 4,000 year-old promise. My time had come, and all I could do was to try to contain myself from all the many thoughts rushing in my head of how this would all happen.
Being the methodical person that I am, my first thought was researching what paperwork would be needed in order to prove my Jewishness and immigrate seamlessly. Once I got that out of the way, I proceeded to come here with very little thought of other practical aspects such as home and job.
I was determined to apply for immigration, wait here patiently for that to happen and trust that all would fall into place. With a small amount of savings, as a result of having lived with my parents the year before coming, I was able to float myself financially until that time.
In my case, I did get accepted quite easily and was actually offered a couple of small jobs which would get me through until something more permanent would materialize. I also instinctively knew how important it was for me to learn the Hebrew language, and so I began to do all I could to study and gain that necessary life tool which would enable me to live successfully here. One of the things which helped a lot was to put myself into situations where I was in an all-Hebrew environment. While being uncomfortable for some, I discovered that this was a good way of taking in much of the daily language and expressions.
During this time in my life, expenses were minimal as I lived with a few other guys. This went on for about three years, when, oddly enough, those small jobs came to an end. By that time, I felt that my Hebrew was adequate to be able to get a more serious job, and that’s what I did. Since that time I have worked regularly and have been able to support myself. It’s been 8 years since then, and I can look back and say that coming to live here has been, for me, a huge relief.
I say that because once I returned from my trip to Israel, I realized that I had absolutely no desire to put down roots and aspire to life in the U.S. I could clearly see my future in Israel, and although I knew it would start with very humble beginnings, I have a sense of accomplishment that what I set out to do, has become a success, with God’s help.
I’m also grateful for my family and congregation who supported me throughout this entire process. Once they heard my deep and personal connection which I made while here, they understood just how important it was for me to fulfill this call.
For anyone reading this story, if you have also toyed with the idea of making Israel your home, I would encourage you to put aside all of the big questions and concerns and just ask that one really important question – is God calling you to come to. If the answer is yes, then approach it with wisdom, and He’ll do the rest!