June 21, 2024
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Two Sisters Make Aliyah, Joining a Third Sister in Israel

When COVID came around the corner in 2020, to say the families all around the world had to change their regular ways of living and reorganize themselves would be an understatement. The last thing any family needed was to take on even more strenuous tasks or change, yet this is exactly what the Bannett and Zofan families decided to do; they decided to officially make aliyah.

It is no surprise that Esther Bannett and her sister Nehama Zofan are moving to Israel together, following in the footsteps of their sister, Meirav Bloom, who made aliyah several months earlier, and their parents who moved a couple of years beforehand. This family is a prime example of a beautifully close-knit and supportive group, with everyone always available to help one another.

While Meirav was the first sister to take the plunge and be sure of her move, it did not take long for Esther and Nehama to join. The three sisters had been living in Fair Lawn, NJ, only a couple blocks away from each other. Now they will be living merely a couple of blocks apart in Ramot, Israel. Growing up in a Zionistic community in Montreal instilled in the family a strong connection to the Holy Land, and they knew that aliyah was the ultimate goal. While there are still two more branches of the family staying in America, they hope that the prospect of making aliyah is something in the near-future.

Making aliyah is an intensely complicated thing to do in general, and adding COVID-19 to the mix definitely added to the stress. While Gideon and Esther Bannett along with Dori and Nehama Zofan began the required paperwork in August/September, they did not receive approval until the following July. They were told that the long wait was due to both the pandemic and the fact that there was a much higher volume of olim this year, causing a major backup in both the Jewish and Israeli government agencies.

It took the Bannetts and Zofans about two years to plan this move, along with the help of Eli and Meirav Bloom. The first year consisted of them finalizing their decision to make aliyah and figuring out the logistics. The second year was then full of paperwork and legality tasks. Both the Bannetts and Zofans stressed that they couldn’t have accomplished what they did without the help of their family in Israel, who were the ones to inspect and research their new homes since it was nearly impossible to visit during COVID.

While this will be a big change for the family, everyone, children and adults alike, are incredibly excited to make the move. The older cousins will definitely miss their American friends, but they are exhilarated to make new friendships and bonds with the people they will meet in Israel.

After being asked about their experience making this drastic change during such an intense time period for the world, both Esther and Nehama expressed that, while COVID-19 put stumbling blocks in their way, in some ways it helped them prioritize their main goal and see what truly matters in life. As Nehama said, “Sometimes, out of something not-so-great, you can figure out what’s important and what your long-term goals are.”


Ayelet Glaser, a summer 2021 Jewish Link intern, is a rising sophomore at Barnard College.

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