Rabbi Avram and Leah Herzog made aliyah from Fair Lawn on July 30. They are currently residing in Jerusalem while waiting for their apartment in Givat Ze’ev to be move-in ready. Leah was a beloved Judaic studies teacher at Ma’ayanot before making aliyah. Avram was a highly regarded and respected rabbi and teacher as well. Their aliyah was long in the planning and a true realization of a lifelong dream.
When interviewed for this article, Leah shared that the key to navigating the often complex and confusing Israeli system successfully is asking lots of questions and being guided by those who are experienced in the navigation process. “Unexpected and valuable help came from an absorption ministry adviser, a former teacher and principal, who felt an allegiance to fellow teachers and went out of her way to advise us about things we didn’t know and even put us in touch with a special adviser for teachers.”
When asked why they had chosen Givat Ze’ev as their community, Leah shared that it is a very inclusive area, home to Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Edot HaMizrach, as well as Karliner and Lubavitch chasidim, and the full range from religious to secular. “The prevailing ethic is that we are all going to get along with each other!” Another great perk is that their community is well connected through public transportation to Yerushalayim as well as points North. “And it is super nice to be close to close friends.”
Leah’s professional plans are exciting. She will serve as a “shoelet u’meishiva” at Midreshet Amudim in Modi’in, a gap-year program founded and directed by former Ma’ayanot faculty member Dr. Julie Goldstein. She will be teaching at Matan as well. In addition, she hopes to spend time writing, crocheting and volunteering for the Lone Soldier Center in Jerusalem. Most of all, she looks forward to exploring her new surroundings.
Rabbi Avi recalls that their aliyah came at a very trying personal time, as his father, Rabbi Yom Tov Herzog, z”l, passed away in Yerushalayim the week that they were scheduled to fly, postponing their plans by a week. “But there is a bright side to all of this. I experienced, quite literally, ‘m’yagon l’simcha,’ from sadness to happiness. Our first flight was in the depths of sadness, as we were going to bury my father and sit shiva with my mother and family. The second flight was the height of simcha, as we were fulfilling our lifelong dream of making aliyah.”
Avi shared that the term “smoothly” as regards settling in Israel must be tweaked, as a two-hour delivery window may actually last eight hours, and two signatures required on a bank check may require a trip to two banks. “It’s all a matter of getting accustomed to a new culture.” Throughout this process, Avi credits Nefesh B’Nefesh with being extremely helpful.
The Herzogs have many friends throughout the country in addition to Avi’s mother and extended family. They are hoping to become an integral part of their new community of Givat Ze’ev. Last summer, Avi had the opportunity to deliver the Shabbat drasha and he is looking forward to future opportunities to teach Torah locally.
In the inspiring words of Rabbi Avi, “It is surreal to wake up each morning in Artzeinu Hakedosha, to realize that this is no longer just a dream, but that we are physically, corporeally here. We are realistic enough to know that there will be challenges ahead, but we wouldn’t change it for the world.”