Messianic believers in the land also have 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.”
The first time I ever felt a real desire to move to Israel was when I was 13 years old, but my “Aliyah” story starts a little bit before that.
Both my parents grew up in Israel but moved to America when I was a baby. That meant I had quite a few family members who didn’t speak English, which was a problem, because I didn’t speak Hebrew.
My mom, who had come to faith in Yeshua at age 13, through her sister, was always clever and resourceful. As it happened, she ended up being the sole caregiver of my brother and me, but she succeeded in providing us with a great education as well as a surprisingly rich plethora of opportunities. One of those opportunities for me was learning Hebrew at age 11 from the local community college.
Most kids, especially at that age, aren’t very interested in taking classes at a local college, even if those classes sound practical or interesting. I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea either, especially since taking the Hebrew class my mom found meant giving up joining the honor band. Only four people from my class made it into the honor band, including me, and I was quite excited about it.
But God did something special in my heart. I prayed and asked Him to take away my desire to join the honor band if it was His will that I should study Hebrew, and suddenly He did. For some reason, I didn’t want to join it anymore, just like that. It was surprising but also clear. So I enrolled in the Hebrew class. My mom helped me a lot with my homework, and especially working on my accent. My experience was very positive, because the teacher was really nice, and there were even other girls, my age, preparing for their Bat Mitzvahs!
Fast-forward two years later. I was 13, and my brother was 11. It was my grandpa’s 80th birthday, and my mom decided we could take a short visit to Israel. After 10 years of not having been there at all, I was going to meet my family – as if for the first time ever, since my earlier encounters were from the time when I was too young to recall. We were all very excited.
I will never forget the moment I stepped out into real Israel, after leaving the airport. It took us hours before my mom picked the proper rental car, haggled over a good price, and got all our luggage packed away into the trunk of the car. In fact, it was 2 a.m. when we finally left the airport.
I don’t remember what we did or where we were going, but we stopped in Tel Aviv near Dizengoff Center – a main shopping hub. I’d learned about that center in my Hebrew class, and now I was actually in it! There were people walking about outside, including a father and his daughter who couldn’t sleep. They seemed so nice, and my mom began to talk to them. To me, everyone was nice. I’d always heard that Tel Aviv had a bustling night life.
But what I will never forget, from that night, was the sudden feeling that registered in my heart the moment I opened that car door and stepped out into Tel Aviv. I was home. I didn’t understand why or how, but I strongly felt a deep connection to everyone around me. Somehow, it was if I was related to each of these Jewish Israelis. They were part of a big extended family to which I felt connected. I had finally come home.
It was a strange feeling, and I forgot about it almost as quickly as it came to me, but the impression it left on me has never faded.
We stayed at my grandpa’s house in the middle of nowhere and there was nothing to do, so the trip was a bit boring. I didn’t even understand everything around me even though I had some Hebrew basics mastered. Nonetheless, strangely, I always felt at home, and I liked the way my mom felt there, too. She wasn’t busy or working, and I noticed that she was familiar with the ways and the types of people there as well as how everything worked. Even the subtleties of the culture and human behavior there seemed clearer to her compared to those in America.
The tears in my eyes caught me a little bit by surprise during takeoff on our way home. During the weeks that followed, I remember asking my mother, multiple times, why we couldn’t just move to Israel. It made so much more sense. Our family was there. She grew up there. We could be happier and feel as if we were back at home. But mom said no, and I so I went on to finish middle-school and then high school, in America.
While still in high-school, I was unable to find a good college. Nothing seemed right. My friends all wanted to either go to prestigious colleges or party colleges. Some even wanted to attend Christian colleges, but I had a hard time seeing myself studying anywhere that I had considered, until a crazy idea popped into my mind: What about Israel? After some quick research, I heard about a place called “Technion.” It seemed perfect. Amazing. The campus looked beautiful, the teaching sounded advanced, even the name was attractive and cute, “Technion!”
Visions of being the peer of a bunch of 20-year-old Israelis excited me and felt right. I think I also might have liked the idea of belonging to a more mature, post-army student body, rather than people who were fresh out of high school. In any case, it felt perfectly natural and somehow right to imagine myself living and studying at the Technion. (This is where I am presently studying after having served for three years in the IDF).
God has provided so many miraculous things leading up to and since making Aliyah. Remembering these miracles encourages me and teaches me valuable lessons about my walk with Yeshua to this day.
If I could go back, there may be some things I would change, but those mistakes taught me a lot about what I should do when I can’t hear God’s voice about something or when I think I hear it but I’m still not sure. Most significantly, I learned that God only speaks to me in a clear way when I take His Word (the Bible) seriously, which means studying it and trying to obey it every day of my life. I also learned a lot about what it means to put God first. It’s so easy to get distracted from God and think we’re putting Him first when really, we’re not. (In my case, I have, sometimes, found myself more focused on my success and my comfort or rushing God’s timing).
I think the resounding and clear message from my story is not necessarily that believers should move to Israel right now, but rather endeavor to seek God first and to obey Him and His Word above all else. Consequently, He blesses them richly, providing for them and leading them in the right direction, just as is promised in Psalm 23 (and Deuteronomy 7).
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mt. 11:28-30