April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A short while ago, I bumped into a friend whom I hadn’t seen since college. She had just made aliyah with her husband and kids and was having a bit of a tough time transitioning her family to their new life. Understandably. I mentioned a couple of strategies that I had found helpful, and with her head tilted to one side this friend of mine said something that I know was meant as a compliment but it just didn’t sit well with me and has been on my mind ever since.

“‘Well, you guys had a perfect aliyah,” she said

Um, so… no. Completely, utterly and outstandingly no. Our aliyah was not perfect. I could venture to say that no one’s is. And while we have been blessed over and over again, and consider our aliyah story a success, baruch Hashem, the new chapters of our aliyah continue to unfold in its wonderful and sometimes imperfect ways.

But see, here’s the thing:

I never expected our aliyah to be anything close to a resemblance of perfection.

I expected difficulty. I braced myself for hardship. I looked crazy square in the eyes and said,

“Bring. It.”

And it came. As it does with any transition in life. As it does for everybody—let’s be real here.

Sometimes the craziness came pounding, and sometimes it came secretly and quietly when we least expected it.

And we learned to welcome it. This unfriendly stranger. This uncomfortableness. This newness.

And when the chips fell, as they so often do, we learned to laugh in its unfamiliar face. We leaned on each other. Sometimes we fell on each other. And we rose stronger and braver and kinder and more real.

When times were challenging, we found ourselves being lifted by the grace of Hashem and by our incredible aliyah angels—our family who have become more like friends. And by our incredible friends who have become more like family.

Yes, we fell. We got bumps and bruises along the way. But we dusted off our scathed elbows and knees and faced the next day with renewed optimism.

The way I see it, at the end of the day we pray that our children grow to become loving, kind, emotionally strong and resilient. They need resilience to face the challenges that life hurls at them. The best way really for them to become resilient is to be faced with difficult and new situations; to learn to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. And we as parents need to remove the bubble wrap, land our helicopters and let them fall. Believe in them. Kiss their bruised knees and prop them up, back on their feet.

I think it took aliyah for me to really learn this.

Our kids fell, they stumbled and crawled their way through. It was part of their journey and still is. And they continue to surprise us with their wondrous growth, broad and introspective learning, willful independence and their real and pure joy and love that comes from living here.

And the love and kindness, it pours in incredible abundance when you teach them to care for others and focus on other people’s needs as a priority.

So, in the end, can I tell you that it has been worth it?

Five incredible and sometimes not so incredible years later I would say this:

Thank you, Israel.

It has been perfectly imperfect.

And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

By Esti Rosen Snukal

 Esti Rosen Snukal made aliyah from Teaneck to Chashmonayim with her husband and four sons in July 2012. She is the adopted mom to two lone IDF soldiers, Raanan Botnick from Highland Park and Sophie Dubitsky from Teaneck. Esti is an active volunteer at The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin and documents many of her aliyah experiences on Facebook. Esti can be reached at [email protected].


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