April 15, 2024
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Yosef Rosenberg: ‘I Have Much More Freedom Here’

Yosef and his father, Yaakov, grilling for soldiers.

Yosef Rosenberg, 16, made aliyah in the summer of 2019 from Bergenfield to Beit Shemesh. He came with his mother Julie, his father Yaakov, and his sisters Malkie, Aliza and Rivki.

Aviva Zacks recently interviewed Rosenberg about his experience as an oleh.

Where did you go to school in New Jersey?

Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey (RYNJ) in River Edge.

Where did you daven?

Ohr HaTorah and Beth Abraham.

Before your aliyah, had you taken any trips to Israel?

We came for Pesach a few years before and on a pilot trip the year before we moved to check out schools.

Were you excited about the idea of aliyah?

Not really. I didn’t want to move away from my good friends.

Was there talk about Israel in your school in New Jersey?

We marched every year in the Israel Day Parade.

Did your parents discuss making aliyah for a while?

They wanted to move for a long time and discussed it with us as a real possibility for about two or three years.

Are you still in touch with your friends in America?

Yes, and I have been back to go to camp.

What was your aliyah experience like? Did you go on a charter flight?

We went on a charter flight with Nefesh B’Nefesh. It was cool walking down the stairs when we landed.

Do you have any hobbies?

I play sports. Up until this year, I played basketball and now I play baseball.

What have you been doing to help soldiers?

I volunteer with my dad once a week barbecuing for soldiers and evacuated families on army bases and in small cities with Grilling for IDF.

What is your usual job at the barbecues?

I mostly grill burgers but also talk to the soldiers and ask about their cool weapons.

What other opportunities are there in your neighborhood to help soldiers?

Our shul members get together to make tzitzit.

How has your school life changed since the war started?

When it started, we were on Zoom for a bit and a lot of the teachers have been in Miluim. Some of them are still fighting and my homeroom teacher is in Gaza. We talk a lot about the war during classes.

You had a hard time with the idea of aliyah. What do you love about living in Israel now?

I have much more freedom here. I can take a bus wherever I want. In 45 minutes, I can be in Yerushalayim.

How do you think the experience of this war in Israel differs from that of your friends in New Jersey?

It’s probably worse for them because they can’t experience it like I can. They went to the rally in Washington but that was only one day. I experience the war every single day, including volunteering.

Would you consider yourself a Zionist now that you’ve been living here?

I always believed in Israel belonging to the Jews even though I didn’t know much about it before I moved. Even though it was hard for me to come, I knew it was the right thing.

Do you miss anything about living in New Jersey?

I miss my friends, of course. And I miss Dunkin’ Donuts and 7-Eleven.

Do you have any advice for any kid whose family is making aliyah?

It takes some time to get used to, and after that it’s great.


Aviva Zacks is a writer living in Israel who loves speaking to olim and hearing their stories. If you know of an oleh/olah who is interested in being interviewed for The Jewish Link, email [email protected].

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