Real Life Stories and Experiences of Yidden Settling in Eretz Yisroel.
Rebecca Lefkowitz – Waiting for Moshiach here
Reflecting upon my life, I am not certain why or when it started, but in my heart was always a desire to live in Eretz Yisroel. Perhaps its root was in an early trauma of mine – when I was 7 and my brother 4. At that time my father was stationed in Turkey for an extended stay, and my mother left us with relatives to rendezvous with him in Israel! How I wanted to go with her! But all is gam zu l’tova and perhaps those feelings planted the seed…
After our marriage, my husband learned in a Rochester kollel for 3 years, then we moved to North Miami Beach where we lived happily for the next 20 years. I became an elementary school secular studies teacher and my husband a high school Rebbe. We were a real chinuch and kiruv family; very involved in our community and everything was going well. Although I very much continued to nurture my dream, as did my husband, his inability to speak Ivrit held us back from seriously considering a move, until Hashem set the gears into motion. Four years ago toward the end of the school year, my husband got a notice – his contract was not being renewed. This was not a shock to us as he was the last black-hatter on the staff; the school had moved in a different direction.
Where to go now? We could not stay in Miami without parnassah. As we considered options, we were sure that EY could not work out – plenty of men are looking for the kind of job my husband was suited for, a Rebbe in an American Yeshiva. What were his chances? But the only other job opportunity that came up was in Dallas!!! We were very reluctant to make such a move with our 9 children ranging in age from 21 to 1! My husband called his Rebbe in EY, not expecting much, and described our situation. His Rebbe said he would ask around and see if there was an available job for him. Imagine our surprise and delight when, a week later, my husband was offered a job in his Rebbe’s American Yeshiva!
We consulted with HaRav Shmuel Kaminetsky, Philadelphia’s Rosh Yeshiva. He reviewed all the details of the move with us, as our situation was different than most. Rav Shmuel then told us, “Go (to Eretz Yisroel) and wait for Moshiach there!” At the time, our 4 oldest children did not make Aliyah with us. But since then our oldest has married and is living in the States, and our 4th is still there in beis medrash; the other two have since come to EY and are starting their own homes here.
When we moved here, we arrived only 5 days before the school year started. Despite the fact that we had already been accepted to schools, there was the all-too-familiar rush of getting school supplies, books, and uniforms, coupled with the pressure of settling into a new home and a new land, and new language. When the school found out I was an experienced English teacher, they kept asking me to join the staff, and after Succos I began working there on a part-time basis. My husband had begun immediately in the Yeshiva, so we all slid into position without too much initial friction.
Certainly there were and still are adjustments. In the USA, we were the frummies, the chinuch family living among all kinds of ba’alabatim. Here we are the Americans… different ideas, different expectations, in some ways, more modern. As could be anticipated, it was a big change for our oldest who made aliya with us; nevertheless, she is doing well and developing her character as she adjusts. The three middle children, not so in tune to the nuances and differences, didn’t find it so hard and they are also doing very well. BH, the baby is just growing up here and doesn’t really know anything else.
Even though the preliminary move was relatively easy, there are still many adjustments for me. One is figuring out who is a suitable playmate for my children. In Miami, since I taught in the schools and lived there a long time, I knew all families. Here, I’m starting from ground zero, not knowing anyone nor having any points of reference. It’s harder to see if someone really has the middos, values that are important to us. Here, many people are in kollel, but there are still all types within that framework. Also, I had to make a paradigm shift in my teaching. I only have my students for 3 hours a week instead of 20 as I had in Florida. It’s not possible to connect to the students and teach in the same way. Additionally, shopping and all kinds of trips can be challenging since we downsized from 2 cars to a bus! I work on creating a safe space for me and focusing on the positive.
The Hashgacha Pratis and nachas are incredible; since we came, we made a chasunah every single year! I was thrilled to be able to be with my daughter in America when she had her baby. Hashem made it work out so well! I run a summer camp in my home in Israel, and I only had a 2 week gap between school and camp – that was the only time I could go to the States to help her. I arrived at her home and we spent a wonderful 3 days and beautiful Shabbos together and then went to the hospital for the birth! I made the bris for her and came back right on time to Israel for my camp program.
All I can add is a tefillah that Hashem help us continue to reap nachas – for us and all klal Yisroel!
Written By: Tova Younger
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