It’s been over a week now since we officially announced that our family will be moving to Israel this summer, and I’m so amazed and appreciative of the unilaterally positive response we’re getting!
I figured there would be some people who would be dubious or even negative about making a decision like this so quickly, when it might seem like all of the pieces aren’t yet in place. But I’m hearing again and again, how wonderful it is that we’re doing this, how the person I’m speaking to wishes they could do the same thing, and they go on to tell us how happy we’re going to be living in Israel.
This has been really nice for me, but it’s been more than nice for dh, who was more hesitant than I was about this decision. Hearing so many people say how smart/wonderful they think it is is a real support! Dh is now just as committed and positive about going as I am, and thanked me for propelling the family to make this move.
Here are some questions I’ve been asked:
– Where are you going?
To a city in the northern part of Israel called Karmiel.
– Why Karmiel?
I felt based on my research from a distance that it would be a good fit for us religiously, and also be warm and relaxed. Dd16 spent a Shabbos there after we had already decided to go, and told us she thinks it’s a great fit for our family and she thinks we’ll be very happy there. (On a side note, she told me the rabbi of the synagogue shared something I said his Shabbos morning talk without quoting me. I asked her why she thought it was me, and after asking me if I had said a particular statement, she said as soon as she heard him say it, she was sure I was the anonymous person he was quoting! Fortunately, it was something positive that he was impressed by. Isn’t it funny that my daughter happened to be sitting there the week that he shared it?
A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to learn that someone I’m friendly with had just returned from her pilot trip to that area , and her detailed feedback was very helpful in confirming our decision. Before that, I felt like technically everything seemed like a good fit, but the intangible feeling of the community is what I really wanted to know about. She was able to share that with me.
We didn’t want to live in an Anglo enclave, since I think it’s important to learn the language and socially integrate. The Anglo community is Karmiel is small but growing, and for us, this is a benefit since it’s nice to be involved in a community when it’s still small and everyone knows each other. You have to work a lot harder to be involved communally in a large and established community.
– What will your husband do professionally?
This is a good question that has a good answer, but I don’t yet know the answer! Something that will offer him an opportunity to use his strengths in a positive environment where he will be well-compensated.
– Why do you want to move to Israel?
This is the hardest question to answer, because it’s really all about an intangible feeling. I can’t point to anything materially that will be better than what I have here, though that’s certainly possible. It’s really about the feeling in the air. I want my kids to grow up with that.
I met an Israeli couple when standing in line ordering shwarma a week ago, and they told me they were moving back this summer after living in the US for many years. I asked why they were going back, and the not especially religious looking husband said, “Because when you wake up in the morning, you feel close to G-d in Heaven.”
– Are you taking a lift?
No, though we might be able to buy some lift space from someone else to send along some seforim (religious books) and homeschooling materials. Otherwise, it will be what we can fit into our suitcases. It’s very freeing knowing that I can’t take most of what I have, and I’ve already given away tons of stuff. Before Pesach (Passover) is an especially good time for this since it means lots less to clean around.
– Why are you moving now?
I’ve casually considered moving to Israel a number of times over the years, but dismissed it since it seemed unrealistic. It seemed too costly (our family doesn’t qualify for any of the benefits for new immigrants), and family-wise, the message is generally to be very, very cautious when making a move with kids over the age of 10 or 12. I realized that even though we have older kids, it’s actually the perfect time since dd16 and ds17 have graduated high school but not yet started college plans. Dd14 is very enthusiastic about going. Ds12 is the most resistant because he doesn’t want to leave his friends, but out of all of our children, he’s the one who has the personality best suited to making new friends and embracing new situations, so he’ll do fine. The other 5 kids will be 10 and under, so it’s a much simpler transition at that point.
As I continued thinking out different factors, I had a growing sense of clarity that this wasn’t a crazy idea, that it was something we could do, and should do. The hardest part of this has been making the decision. It meant being willing to leave my comfort zone and start all over, which can be an intimidating thought. You know the objections that came to mind as I was working through the main points? Little things like, ‘But I don’t know where to buy in bulk or get good deals.’
It reminded me of when I was trying to decide if I should stop working before my third child was born so I could be home full-time. One of the nice perks at work (besides a salary and adult company) was that I got a nice hot lunch every day, and when fresh fruit was left over, I was often told to take it home for the kids. So when I thought of not working, I thought, “I won’t be able to get the free fruit anymore!” I know, it sounds absurd, right? Sometimes it’s really the little things that we don’t want to let go of that hold us back, not the big things. When I’m faced with decisions like this, I’ve learned to recognize when I’m afraid of ‘not having the fruit’, and that helps me get things back into perspective.
I know I was asked other questions – what did I forget? I’ll answer about our thoughts regarding homeschooling in Israel in it’s own post. If there’s something else you want to know, go ahead and ask!