June 16, 2024
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Doni Nyer: ‘The Right Time for Aliyah Is When You Decide to Do It’

Doni Nyer, 37, tells us how much he and his wife, Mickey, believe that making aliyah is a leap of faith. Doni and Mickey made aliyah in 2020 with Ephie, 13; Abigail, 10; Jacob, 7; and Aaron, 3.

Tell me about your first trip to Israel.

I was about 7 years old when my parents brought my family here for Sukkot. I remember getting off the plane and being overwhelmed by the heat and endless views of the desert and palm trees. My parents took us all over the country, and I was amazed that in the same amount of time it takes someone to drive from one end of New Jersey to the other, we were able to travel the entire country. From rafting up north to hiking down south, I couldn’t wait to come back the next year.

Where did you grow up and what schools did you go to?

I lived in New Rochelle my entire life. I went to Westchester Day School until fourth grade, and then my parents switched us to Breuer’s in Washington Heights. I went to MTA for high school, then to Shaalvim in Israel, then Yeshiva University, and then to dental school at Boston University.

What were your aliyah influences?

My grandparents made aliyah about 21 years ago. Additionally, my brother and sister-in-law made aliyah around a month after they got married. They had no plans except to make Israel their home. It was clear that no matter what stage of life you’re in, moving wouldn’t be easy, but it’s still the right move.

We are blessed to have a lot of family here in Israel—including my great aunts, uncles and cousins. Their message was always, “Enough with the visits; you belong here in Israel.”

Finally, a good friend from Yeshivat Shaalvim gave me a dollar bill when I left yeshiva and said, “Don’t pay me back; use it when you make aliyah.” We have been friends since then, and of course, I used it when I landed at the airport to buy my first iced coffee as an Israeli citizen.

What was your final motivation to make aliyah?

After our first trip to Israel with our children, we were moved by their interest and love for the country. They were enamored with the idea of Israel and the connection it had to what they were learning about in school and life. After that trip, we decided our plan would be to make aliyah before Ephie’s Bar-Mitzvah.

In December of 2019, Mickey said, “This is the year; Ephie is almost 13.” Two months later, COVID hit, the world was shut down and we weren’t really sure how it was going to work out. The Jewish Agency closed the day of our interview with an unknown opening date, but we still believed that everything would work out and that we would still be able to pull it off. We said that if the paperwork goes through, we were getting on the plane. The rest is history.

What did your kids think about it?

Our children knew that we were always thinking about it, so during the Pesach Seder in quarantine, when we told them we were going to move to Israel next year, they were not surprised but definitely a little apprehensive. They asked a lot of questions we couldn’t necessarily answer. We assured them that this was also a new experience for us and that we would all figure it out together. Their excitement grew each month after that, and they were so proud to tell people they were moving!

Where did your kids go to school?

Our children attended Westchester Day School for nine years and then SAR Academy for one year prior to aliyah.

Do you miss anything about living in New Rochelle?

We miss our friends, family and the New Rochelle community. We were very involved in the community there. We hope we can do the same in Modiin.

Do you have a message for anyone who is considering making aliyah?

We always talked about waiting for “the right time,” and over time we realized that it doesn’t exist. The right time for aliyah is when you decide to do it.

By Aviva Zacks

 

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