May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It’s been six years since we took that crazy jump into the abyss.

Six years since we bought a family pass for six to the Fun House. You remember the one, with the crazy distorted mirrors that stretch you and pull you in every which direction. Where you still see a small resemblance of yourself, but in a completely twisted and somehow hysterical way.

Six years since we buckled up on the most insane roller coaster ride of our lives. Where we landed and walked down those airplane stairs on the warm runway, inhaled our new lives like oxygen.

But that same beautiful and somewhat foreign air can also knock the wind right out of you.

Because it isn’t always easy, this aliyah thing.

At the beginning you have so many moments that feel as though you are just swimming against the waves of the Mediterranean, until every muscle in your body warms and every fiber of your being aches. And you just want to crawl back into your bed and ask for a do-over.

Because navigating this new life in a new language is challenging, Sometimes you’re lucky and Hebrew streams out of your mouth in cool clear rivers and streams, that you just swell with enormous pride and catch yourself thinking, OK, I got this. And then, other days, the same beautiful language spews out from your lips like splattering mud. Messy, goopy and clumsy. And the simplest of things like communicating with your mechanic can feel like a Supreme Court hearing.

And you don’t feel like a capable woman but rather like a small, frustrated child trying desperately to communicate and just tripping over her words. And it’s so completely exhausting and embarrassing and humbling.

But you find that quiet corner in your head space.

You breathe. And then breathe again.

And slowly regroup.

Maybe even step out of yourself and laugh.

You try to remember to take all the incredible awesome around you everywhere, and let it wash over you and transcend any and all of the crazy. Even the crazy at the mechanic.

Then you jump in your newly fixed car and drive to Jerusalem, leaving the mechanic and all those frustrations in your dust trails. You drive to Jerusalem. Because heck, you just can; it’s one of the many perks of living here.

And within minutes you are standing on the rooftop of Netiv Aryeh overlooking the Kotel, where one of your adopted lone soldiers is celebrating his new engagement to his beautiful fiance. You feel the love and excitement and nervousness and it’s so entirely beautiful and sweet. You hear the shofar being blown on the rooftop literally right beside you, piercing and clear. Waking you up to what’s real and true.

And as that Jerusalem summer breeze washes over you, you look down from the high rooftop at a sea of olive green and blue and white, as a new group of young brave men take their oath to protect and serve our people. Their cries of אני נשבע ,אני נשבע ,אני נשבע, I swear, I swear, I swear, meet with the piercing call of the shofar and mix with the tears and prayers of the people pressed up against the Kotel, and with all the people dancing and singing for a new couple starting their life adventure. And it all just blends into one beautiful, incredible anthem that’s carried from that high rooftop on Netiv Aryeh and over the lush, green Jerusalem hills and higher.

And as you walk the moonlit cobblestone pathways you pass the new yeshiva students fresh off the plane. Dressed smartly in plaid button-down shirts and khaki starched pants, they make their way through all their newness, looking dazed and confused, holding their breath till they can finally feel the stones of the Kotel, squeeze their eyes shut and exhale, and tell themselves, OK, I got this.

And you pass a group of young musicians sitting in the gate by Ir David, playing דוד מלך ישראל on harpsichords and darbukas. And you know that King David has walked these same smooth stones you now are walking. And that he has stood exactly where you are now standing hearing his swan song. And it becomes a little too much to comprehend.

And then you drive back home, feeling exhausted and yet so completely complete. All those broken little jagged edges from earlier, the struggles that new olim face, now smoothed again by the sounds and smells and sights of this incredible country and her people. And you stop at a red light, chest again filled to capacity. And you see in the middle of the road, on the divider of the highway, rows and rows of gleaming red pomegranates. Right there next to you, growing in the middle of this highway intersection. And it isn’t lost on you, this incredible thing. That in the middle of all the smog and car engines of traffic, where everyone is dealing with their stuff and making their way through the thickness of life, there could be sweet pomegranates growing. A sign for a new beginning, a symbol for a fresh start, of that do-over we sometimes long for.

And six years later you can still find the incredible beauty in seeing something as simple as pomegranates blooming on a highway divider.

As simple as young musicians playing in Ir David.

As simple as the sound of the shofar by the Kotel before the new year.

As simple as the new yeshiva boys walking through the Old City courtyard.

As inspiring as the new soldiers taking their oath in purity and unison.

And as beautiful as a new couple committing themselves to building a bayit neeman b’Yisrael b’Eretz Yisrael.

Right there, high above the ancient arches. Up, on the moonlit rooftop overlooking the Kotel. On yet another simple but magical midsummer’s night. Six years later.

Esti Rosen Snukal made aliya with her family six years ago from Teaneck New Jersey. She volunteers at The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin and has been a contributor to The Jewish Link, documenting life as a new olah.

By Esti Rosen Snukal


Follow Esti on Instagram, @ esti1818, and on Facebook. Esti can be reached at [email protected]

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