Editors note: We would like to welcome an exciting new biweekly column to our pages. Aviva Zacks will bring you stories of locals who made aliyah, recently or otherwise. If you know anyone who would like to be featured, please email [email protected]
I got the chance to sit down with Lauren Adler, the daughter-in-law of Rabbi Yosef Adler, who made aliyah from Teaneck in the summer of 2018 with her husband, Zvi, and their children, Kayla, Jonah, and Elan. Adler, 42, was a long-time teacher at Moriah School and continues to mentor teachers remotely from her home in Modiin. She works at Camp Mesorah every summer, and is a role model for all potential olim as she always tries to find the positive side of every situation.
Aviva Zacks: Were you Zionistic growing up?
Lauren Adler: I grew up in a very Zionistic household. I remember Israel always being very important in my family. When we visited Israel, my parents always instilled in us the importance of supporting our homeland. Every time I left Israel, even as young as 8 years old, I remember feeling an emptiness in my body, like something was missing. My soul always felt complete in Israel.
AZ: What gave you the impetus to make the final aliyah decision?
LA: Even when we dated, Zvi and I always said that in an ideal world we would love to live in Israel, but we thought we couldn’t financially pull it off, so it was kept on the back burner. When the company Zvi worked for was bought, in his first meeting with his new boss, Zvi asked if she would consider letting him work remotely. The answer was, “I don’t care if you work on the moon, as long as you do the job.” Zvi came home and told me, and we just sat there and laughed. We opened a Tik through Nefesh B’Nefesh that very night.
AZ: How did your kids take the news?
LA: They didn’t like the idea of being uprooted and leaving their friends and family behind, but we worked with each child to help each one make the transition. On my pilot trip, I sent them pictures of everything so they could get a sense of where they were moving. We also kept emphasizing how important Israel is to the Jewish people and to our family, specifically.
AZ: What was your actual aliyah experience like?
LA: Having friends and family already in Modiin paving the way for us definitely made it a bit easier. We had many last goodbye parties and dinners, and leaving friends and family was and still is the hardest part of aliyah for me. I’d say that the airport scene at JFK was both gut-wrenching and the happiest day of my life at the same time.
When we landed, my in-laws, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, our nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins met us at the airport. Seeing them there greeting us with open arms was so joyful and special. It is a moment I will never forget.
AZ: How old were your kids then and what are they up to now?
LA: They were 9, 12 and 13, and are now 12, 15 and 16. They are thriving, Baruch Hashem, in each of their schools and socially as well. The first year was hard—the adjustment was intense and different for each child—but their resilience is astounding, and hearing them speak Hebrew and seeing them be successful gives us an immense amount of nachat.
AZ: What do you do for fun?
LA: Zvi and I both work U.S. hours and take our Sundays very seriously. Every Sunday we tour the land. We travel alone or with friends—veteran and new olim—to museums, on hikes, and to other beautiful sites. We love our proximity to the beach and go very often. We definitely make the most of living in our special and beautiful country.
AZ: What do you miss about Teaneck?
LA: We lived in Teaneck for 18 years, so it goes without saying that I miss my family and friends, first and foremost. I also miss how much easier it is in the stores, banks, post office and bureaucratic places.
AZ: What message do you have for the people reading this interview?
LA: Aliyah is the best thing you can do for yourself and your kids. My kids now have a true understanding of what it means to be part of something bigger than themselves—part of a nation, of belonging in their homeland. Even at their young ages, they are fully aware of the Israeli political situation and have opinions about its leaders. During the last conflict with Gaza, when we were in our shelter several times because of rockets headed towards Modiin, we talked to them about the Arab-Israeli conflict and relationship. Living in Teaneck, we could talk about it, but it’s much more relevant here.
Find a way to make aliyah work for your family—it is where we are meant to be.
By Aviva ZacksBy Aviva Zacks