I am on a journey, to make Aliyah, and want to share my journey with my family, friends and anyone that is interested. I made the decision to make Aliyah in December 2002 and now I am actually doing it. This blog will chronicle my story and adventures leading up to getting on the plane and then the continuing story of the beginning of my new life in Israel and what I experience once there.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A little history - Where this journey began...

I am going to take a step back, way before last Friday's initial post to lay out how I got to this point in my life with regards to aliyah.

I had for many years not even been into a synagogue. I was living in Utah and upon moving into my house the Mormon missionaries showed up at my door (surprise, surprise). They actually pushed me back into the synagogue. I met with the rabbi for several hours and at the end of the meeting I wondered why I had ever stopped practicing. I started going to shul. After a short stay in Utah I moved back east to Atlanta.

I started attending shul there (Congregation Beth Shalom), got involved with the Mosaic Outdoor Club of Georgia. I was on a hike when a friend of mine, whom I met in Mosaic, Gary Vogin tells me about this volunteer program that he went on, to volunteer in the Israeli Army. I thought this sounded really cool, stated doing a little research and a couple weeks later I was signed up.

The program, Sar-El, kept me informed of my coming trip and information in general. They also made the comment that 46% of people that come to Israel in their program eventually make aliyah. I laughed and said that wasn't going to be me. During the time I spent in Israel they kept reminding us of the statistic and again I laughed and said that was not going to be me. I got on the plane with many wonderful memories and said to myself "see it wasn't me". Little did I know, but about six months later (December 2002), I came to the realization of how much I missed Israel and knew in my heart that I belonged to Israel and Israel belonged to me.

I had been reading about this new organization, Nefesh b'Nefesh and their inaugural trip the summer just past. I read everything on their website, followed every link. I registered on their website and at the same time I talked with a child psychologist who told me that with two kids in middle school I needed to either leave almost immediately or wait until they graduated from high school. I knew the timing wasn't right for my newly teenaged children, not to mention their older sister. Thus, reality in check, I knew I had to wait until after high school. They would be finished in May/June 2009. Nefesh b'Nefesh took all my basic information, but basically said keep in touch and when it is a little closer then we can proceed.

Over the next several years I continued to read all that I could. I continued my Hebrew studies at the ulpan at the JCC. (I still have a ways to go, but I can order from a menu, go on a trip and furnish my home). I told many people of my plans and when asked when, they kind of snickered at the length of time (I'm sure thinking "yeah right" or "we'll see then").

I planned to stay in Atlanta until I left, but life is funny sometimes. I had kept in touch over the years with my first employer and friend, David Livingston. He originally was in the Jewelry retail and manufacturing business. I talked him into his first computer purchase in the mid 1980s and he was hooked. We became a beta site for 3Com and we had the first PC LAN in South Carolina. I stayed for several years but considered staying there was the end of my technology based career path. I moved on, but stayed in touch. I was in Columbia in the spring of 2007 and met David for lunch. He made the same comment that usually made when we were together: You should come back and join us. I replied as I had many times before "I like Atlanta and Jewish community there, why do I want to move back to Columbia". He said he'd give me a good job and a piece of the company. I then stated "That's nice but I'm still moving to Israel in two years", he paused and then responded, "OK, then we'll open an office there". I then had an answer to a question that had been asked of me many times: What are you going to do when you get there? So, July 2007 brought me back to Columbia.

My kids still graduate in May and June 2009. The international FJMC (Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs) convention will be held the first weekend of July 2009 and I felt that would be worth staying for before leaving. As the flight schedule is not out yet for 2009 for Nefesh b'Nefesh , I don't know when I'll be leaving, but they usually have a couple in July, so I figure that is when I'll start the next chapter of my life. Keep up with this blog and you'll know when I know...

I have great family and friends and that is the hard part of moving a third of the way around the world. Fortunately with the internet (voice, text and video) keeping in touch will not be so difficult, just a little harder to share a bagel and lox, schwarma, felafel... Hopefully you'll all come visit me in Israel, maybe even a few of you will come one day for good.

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