Tzivia (Berow) Wasser, 34, made aliyah from Elizabeth, New Jersey to Netanya this past September with her husband Bezalel and children Rivi, 6, and Yitzy, 4. We discussed the impetus of the move and its impact in a wide-ranging conversation.
Aviva: Where did you attend shul, and what schools did you go to when you were growing up?
Tzivia: I was born and raised in Passaic, New Jersey. My family davened at Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton. I went to Hillel Academy (now YBH) for elementary school and I graduated from Bruriah High School.
Aviva: Did your community encourage aliyah?
Tzivia: Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton is a Zionistic community that encourages aliyah. I davened there during Rabbi Wasserman’s heyday. He was finally able to make aliyah in 2005 and lived here for the rest of his life.
Aviva: How about your schools?
Tzivia: Hillel and Bruriah were also Zionistic influences. Marching in the parade every year was a highlight.
Aviva: What did you do after you graduated from high school?
Tzivia: I spent 18 months at the Be’er Miriam Seminary in Har Nof and then graduated from Stern College and the Wurzweiler School of Social Work.
Aviva: What was your motivation to move to Israel?
Tzivia: I didn’t really consider aliyah for myself when I was younger. When I went to seminary, I could actually see myself living here, and throughout the whole process of making aliyah I’ve held onto the idea that I can be the best version of myself in Israel.
Aviva: Was aliyah a discussion when you and Bezalel were dating?
Tzivia: It was definitely a discussion. He was committed to making aliyah even more than I was, even before he went to yeshiva. We were very fortunate that we were in agreement about aliyah from the beginning.
Aviva: How did you decide to make aliyah this year?
Tzivia: We agreed that by the time our oldest child was going into first grade, we needed to be in Israel. Aside from the expensive private school tuition in the U.S., we agreed that we wanted to raise our kids in Israel. I think that the earlier you come with kids, the easier it is for them to integrate.
Aviva: How did you feel when you landed in Israel on your aliyah flight?
Tzivia: We were on a cluster flight. The best part was when the plane was descending and we were getting ready to land. My daughter was sitting next to me, looking for the coastline as buildings started to come into view. The excitement really started to build up about not having to leave because this time; I was landing as an Israeli citizen.
Aviva: What do you love about living here so far?
Tzivia: I’m grateful that we moved to Kiryat Hasharon. On our pilot trip, we made some contacts and spent a Shabbat here. It felt like a comfortable community that we could work our way into. When we arrived on aliyah, they were wonderful about providing us with supplies that we needed until our lift arrived. The community has families from many different English speaking countries. It was an important part of our community search to not go to a very American community. We like being in a beautiful city such as Netanya, with a city’s infrastructure to help us in our integration.
Aviva: Do you miss anything about living in New Jersey?
Tzivia: I miss the fall. My friends are posting pictures of apple picking and of their kids playing in the leaves.
Aviva: What are you doing these days?
Tzivia: I am not looking for a job just yet because I’m trying to work out my ulpan options. My husband was able to retain his job, at least for the short term. One day, we will both work on converting our social work licenses.
Aviva: Do you have a message for anyone who’s considering making aliyah?
Tzivia: Aliyah is not easy and there are going to be challenges that will pop up at the most unexpected times and jar your consciousness. Having said that, it is still probably the best thing I’ve ever done. Living in Israel is so much more amenable to children and family life, which helps our children feel accepted.
By Aviva Zacks