Shortly after I became a chosson, my mother asked my kallah if she had completed a Bridal Registry form for receiving gifts. My kallah nodded, saying that she would probably store the gifts by her mother until we came back from Eretz Yisroel – we planned to move there after our chasunah. My mother wisely advised her to double check with me, adding, “He’s planning to keep one day of Yom Tov!”
Growing up in Miami, I felt very connected to Eretz Yisroel – that was where my grandmother was raised and it was the atmosphere I grew up in. When I finally came to Eretz Yisroel as a bochur at the age of 20, initially I did not realize how much it seemed like home. Only upon my return to my parents for Pesach, did it hit me; Eretz Yisroel was the place where I belonged and felt comfortable. Only then did I appreciate how unsettled and out of place I felt in America.
When my wife’s brother who had lived in Eretz Yisroel for over 10 years moved back and commented, “all the normal people go back to America!” I had a flash of insight. At first I felt insulted, but then realized he was right. So many are just on cruise control, not evaluating and prioritizing our true goal in life – avodas Hashem. Full of gratitude to Hashem for guiding me here, I continue to thank Him daily. My brother-in-law was visiting here once and went out late in the evening. He returned in shock to tell me that the Bais Medrash here was packed. No kollel, just the standard, it’s just what men do when they can. It’s a Torah centered lifestyle, people invest in learning. We enjoy a very nice and frum atmosphere.
Appreciating what I have gives me the courage and ability to accept what I miss – family simchos. When my parents made my brother’s aufruf, we planned to come, but were unable to get a flight. My son’s bris prevented us from participating in the next chasunah. Baruch Hashem, when we make simchos we have family/relatives who take the opportunity to come to EY; of course making such a trip they do not leave so quickly and so we enjoy and bond longer than we would if the simcha was in America.
But the main attraction here is the emphasis, the push for yiras Shomayim. It’s a pervasive ruchnius we don’t feel in America, a non-stop vatranus on gashmius, a joy of chessed. Sure there are challenges… bureaucracy, difficulties in communicating with workers and offices… but with Hashem’s help we manage. And although we have had difficulties in school due to the language and culture differences, we have found teachers to be very dedicated and saw that they really make great effort to overcome the barriers. With one teacher in particular we had a great deal of difficulty, but we sat and talked and I explained and she listened and actually turned around. It was all very nice and encouraging and my daughter did very well with her.
My wife and I grew up in kiruv communities where there is an idea that you are raising your children in your house not in the street. BH, we are doing that here as well. So we are in Eretz Yisroel, but we don’t take anything for granted. As part of raising our children, we make a special effort to be a strong influence on them. Just a cute story, when my son turned 7, for his birthday gift he wanted posters proclaiming “Chayim Meusharim b’li iPhone!” He is so full of that idea, that when a visiting student took out an iPhone, he said: “Get that tamei thing out of our house!” We had to explain to him that his mother and I are in charge of the house, but he can be in charge of his room and keep it as kodosh as he can.
Baruch Hashem we are very happy that we chose to live our life and raise a family in Eretz Yisroel!
– Avraham Yaakov Becker
This article is part of our Haaretz Hatovah series featuring Yidden living in, settling, and building up Eretz Yisroel. For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.