This year it’s my turn. My eldest daughter, who made aliyah with my husband and me as an infant 17 years ago, and has a sabra brother and sister, is deep in the final pressures of exams. She and her friends are busy studying and comparing notes on their upcoming army induction—“What’s your ta’arich giyus (induction date)?” “What’s your profile?” “What unit are you hoping to get into?”
Army service is a given in my daughter’s life, and she can’t always quite understand why her father and I are so tremendously moved and excited about it all, or why I’m prepared to bake up a storm for this kiddush. It’s not easy to explain to her why we, like so many other veteran olim parents like us, who were not born and raised here, but made aliyah out of our own conviction, feel such a special extra significance and sentimentality in this event.
We grew up in Canada, as did our parents and grandparents. Among the inspirations for our aliyah was a deep belief that Israel was the place for Jews to live, to raise Jewish children and to participate in ensuring a Jewish future. Aliyah was for us an opportunity and a privilege, which we embraced with all its complexities and complications. I hope that trying to understand our pride has helped her understand more about our hopes and fears for her and the Jewish future.
All parents tend to be proud of their children. As olim parents, we have often had occasion to take particular pleasure and pride in watching our children experience the uniquely Israeli ways of marking the Jewish calendar. Our own absorption has been helped along by experiencing with our children moments that we didn’t have in our countries of origin. When the kids were in gan we kvelled to see them in a flower wreath (zer prachim) at Shavuot, blessing their friends and putting agurot (small coins) in the tzedakah box at birthday parties, roasting a potato on Lag Ba’Omer. As they grew, we enjoyed watching them dressing up (for at least a week!) on Purim, in blue and white for Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day), eating soofganiot (jelly doughnuts) on Chanukah, or being wished a Shabbat Shalom by the bus driver.
Then as teens, participating in Gadna, hiking and learning to love their land on a tiyul shnati [yearly class trip often for up to a week] and with a tnuat noar [youth movement], planning ceremonies and coming to grips with serious issues, we too were enriched by their experiences. The natural way in which they integrated their Jewish and Israeli identity was, and is, a source of tremendous satisfaction to us. It has also strengthened the conviction that we had made the right choice.
By: Josie Arbel