June 19, 2024
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June 19, 2024
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Shari Schwartz: ‘We Have Never Been Happier’

Shari Schwartz, 62, made aliyah from Passaic with her husband Kenny, 64, this past summer. Shari’s first trip to Israel was in 1976 when she was on a program studying Hebrew language, touring and volunteering on Kibbutz Be’erot Yitzchak. She has been dreaming about making aliyah since then.

How did your Zionist education inspire your dream of making aliyah?

I went to Bruriah High School, and in 12th grade, we all came to Israel for a few months to volunteer or go to Ulpan. We toured and learned, and I was able to see what I had learned in my Jewish education come to life. Since that time, it’s always been my dream to come to Israel. I lived in Netanya then and I live here now.

You grew up in Passaic and made aliyah from there. What was that like?

I watched Passaic grow and change and grow again, but we always thought, “We’re here and we’ll raise our children here, but we’re not staying.”

Was your family Zionistic?

From the time that they were able to travel early in the 1970s, my parents visited Israel regularly. My brother made aliyah right when he got married in 1987.

We brought our children to Israel when they were growing up, and then we brought our grandchildren. We showed them everything. We tried to give them a feel for the country and the history and how important it is to be here. Our daughter and her family made aliyah nine years ago.

What was your final motivation for coming?

I was used to coming to see my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren very often. Whenever I felt the need, I would get on a plane and just come. When that was taken away from me because of Corona, it was very hard for me. One year became a year and a half. In addition, antisemitism in America is scary. I can’t say we feared for our lives, but we did see the handwriting on the wall—history repeating itself, the past coming back.

What was your aliyah flight like?

Nefesh B’Nefesh had someone waiting at Newark airport to greet us. We were an eclectic group of about 30 olim—older, middle-aged, young couples with children, and one lone soldier. When we landed, someone from the Jewish Agency met us, gave us our paperwork and medical documents, took us for Corona testing, and then NBN met us outside. We handed them our paperwork, and they gave us our Teudat Olim and our temporary Teudot Zehut (ID cards).

No family or friends were able to wait for us at the airport because no one was allowed to enter the airport environment, due to Corona. NBN put us in a cab, and we went to our apartment in Netanya where our family was waiting.

What do you miss?

My mom in Florida, and our son and daughter-in-law and their children. We hope that one day our son and his family will join us.

I miss my friends, too. I would love for them to find the peace that we have found here.

What message do you have for people in New Jersey?

The chagim in Israel were incredible. I honestly can say that I can see and feel Hashem everywhere I look. I’ve gotten so spiritual and peaceful that my family thinks I’ve been abducted. I’m not usually like this. I am just seeing it everywhere I turn. I’m just in awe and loving every single second. Kenny finds spirituality in everything, but this is really special for him.

We have to tell you that we are not sorry, we have no complaints, and we have never been happier.

By Aviva Zacks


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