Real Life Stories and Experiences of Yidden Settling in Eretz Yisroel.
I grew up in Kensington – that’s between Boro Park and Flatbush, for those unfamiliar with Brooklyn, it’s in the heart of the frum community. I came to Eretz Yisroel straight after high school although I was a bit young and that was off the beaten track. I wanted to learn, and found my place in Yeshiva HaKotel – today known as Netiv Aryeh. I thrived there, learning full time for two years.
As I look back at the factors that brought me here and keep me here, I think it was just a natural development in my life. I didn’t really think much about living here until I arrived – and then I just couldn’t envision leaving! I was in Yeshiva during the intifada, and the horrific bus bombings; it was a powerfully emotional time. That situation motivated me to think a lot about the country as a whole, the people and the way of life. I started wondering… could I make this a reality? As I explored options, I saw I could manage yeshiva and college here, no need to go back to USA. I continued learning during the day while attending an Israeli college, the Machon Lev evening program.
Four years later I had a business degree, and was ready to move on to the next stage of life. I was not considering moving back to the USA, and BH my parents were very supportive.
Fortunately, I met my wife here in EY shortly thereafter. Michal (Goldberg) grew up in West Orange New Jersey and came to learn in EY after high school, and she, also very idealistic, wanted to stay here as well. We flew to the East Coast, got married and quickly headed back here… we actually had one of our sheva brachos on our Nefesh B’Nefesh flight!
Fifteen years have passed. We started out in Yerushalayim, but then moved to Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef. Although we were happy there, when RBS Gimmel opened up, we were among the pioneers. Currently, I work for an online marketing company and do some handyman jobs as they come up. Michal works for a patent filing company, selling their services. Hashem has blessed us with four daughters and a son; all are doing well in school both socially and academically.
Without saying much, we set good examples for our families. My sister made Aliyah a couple years after we did, she never would have done so if not for the fact that we were living here! My brother’s daughter just finished seminary and is in a shana bet program, and wants to stay. My parents come to visit for months at a time and we hope they will join us here soon!
My wife also set the example in her family. She came, her siblings followed and finally her parents made Aliyah! Definitely easier and more fun when you have family here!
Living in a new and growing community affords many opportunities for us pioneers. We recently started a new shul in RBSG; Rav Tzadok Cable is our Rav and I am the gabbai. One of our goals is to help Anglo bnei aliyah who do not quite fit into Israeli shuls; our needs are different. Language is an issue of course, but so is culture. We emphasize friendliness and offer encouragement and information in many areas, but especially in navigating the chareidi system; it’s different than in America in a few ways. One of the big challenges we chutznikim deal with is leaving full time learning. Yes, certainly we have to adjust but it should not mean lowering our spiritual level. In our shul, we’re trying to help people continue on the Torah path while working, which is, practically speaking, a chutznik concept. We offer regular shiurim during the week and more on Shabbos, and have a daily netz kollel every morning from 5-7 learning and davening – the schedule varies according to the time of netz.
Our next project is getting land and building, as we are presently situated in a parking lot. We look forward to continued growth on all levels, and welcoming many more bnei aliyah!
– Avromi Sommers
This article is part of our Haaretz Hatovah series featuring Yidden living in, settling, and building up Eretz Yisroel. For more info please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit naavakodesh.org/haaretz-hatovah