Gilad Glazer, 13 years old, just celebrated his bar mitzvah in Jerusalem, surrounded by his family and friends. He made aliyah with his family from Riverdale this past September and lives in Modi’in.
Aviva: Who did you make aliyah with?
Gilad: My mom, my dad, one brother and one sister. My oldest sister was already in Israel and she is serving in the army. My other older brother stayed in the US to finish his senior year of high school and will come to Israel at the end of the summer.
Aviva: Where do you go to school and what grade are you in?
Gilad: I go to Yeshivat Lapid in Modi’in, and I’m in seventh grade.
Aviva: What school and shul did you go to in New York?
Gilad: SAR and the Riverdale Minyan.
Aviva: Can you remember any of your early trips to Israel when you were younger?
Gilad: When we came, we would usually just visit family, but I do remember one time we went on a really cool water hike up in the Golan with my uncle.
Aviva: Do you have family who lives in Israel?
Gilad: I have an uncle that lives in the Golan and an uncle in Talmon. My grandmother lives in Jerusalem, and my dad’s parents live in Elazar. I have a great aunt who also lives in Jerusalem, and I have a bunch of cousins in Jerusalem, Efrat and Netanya.
Aviva: How long ago did your parents tell you were making aliyah?
Gilad: It wasn’t really that they were telling us. It was more of a group decision in January of last year.
Aviva: Was it something that you agreed to do easily, or did you have to be convinced?
Gilad: I had to be convinced. I was against it, but then we had some negotiations.
Aviva: What did your parents have to promise you?
Gilad: A dog, but we don’t have one yet. I think we’re getting one in September.
Aviva: When you were learning in SAR, was there a lot of talk about Israel and how important it is?
Gilad: Around Yom Ha’atzmaut, we would take time off normal classes and have discussions about Israel. There was a packet filled with information about Israel: facts about the prime ministers, the War of Independence, the Six Day War in 1967, and other things about the history of the Jewish state.
Aviva: What was your aliyah experience like when you came in September?
Gilad: It was a normal flight like other flights, but when I landed, I knew I was living here now.
Aviva: How were your first Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut in Israel?
Gilad: It was cool and very different than America. On Yom Hazikaron the whole country is mourning and on Yom Ha’atzmaut the whole country is celebrating together.
Aviva: What do you love about living in Israel?
Gilad: There’s a lot of free time because the teachers don’t give a lot of homework or tests, and there is a lot more freedom. I didn’t know anyone before I got here, and now I hang out with my new friends a lot. It was an existing group of friends who welcomed me into their group and now they’re my friends.
Aviva: Is there anything else you love about living in Israel besides the free time?
Gilad: It’s the Jewish homeland, which means I’m living in the exact spot where Jews are supposed to be living.
Aviva: Do you miss anything about living in Riverdale?
Gilad: Mostly my friends and my school. School here is different because it’s all in Hebrew.
Aviva: How is it to learn in Hebrew?
Gilad: It’s hard, but it’s getting easier.
Aviva: Do you have a message or advice for a young person around your age whose family is making aliyah?
Gilad: Follow school rules, so you don’t get your phone taken away in school, which happened to me today. Also, don’t worry, it gets better.
By Aviva Zacks