New immigrants to Israel stepping out of the plane at Ben Gurion Airport. (Courtesy Nefesh B'Nefesh)

By Shmuel Katz

It’s our bar mitzvah year in Israel, and the changes, which once popped up with shocking regularity, are much fewer. And they seem to creep up on us without us realizing it.

Our youngest is interviewing for high school. As our kids are older and more independent, the demands upon our time have changed. They simply don’t need constant attention like they did when they were all little, which means that (gasp) we’ve been able to do more for ourselves than we have in 25+ years.

This would have also happened had we stayed in the U.S., so it wasn’t much of an aliyah thing until earlier this week, when Goldie flew to New York for no special reason other than to visit family. She’ll be there for a couple of weeks, spending some time with Chaim and Ashley (whom we haven’t seen since last June), Goldie’s family (most of whom live in New York), as well as some friends.

Her usual office is our dining-room table, so moving to a mobile office in one of her siblings’ houses or at Starbucks won’t be a big deal for her. All she needs is her laptop. With not much happening during the winter, and tickets being relatively cheap, she thought it was an opportune time to visit.

In the past, these trips have been coordinated around a simcha or life event. They’ve been limited to 10 or 12 days because our routine has been set up to revolve around daily life here and without changing my work schedule, I could only fill in for a limited time. And the older kids needed to pitch in, too.

Well, the kids are still pitching in and I still need to adjust my schedule. But with fewer young kids comes fewer carpools, etc., and so they are changes we can well manage. I told Goldie to extend the trip so she can really soak up being with the family we never get to see.

What’s weird is that we’ve gone through much longer stretches of time without seeing family — in some cases, several years — but that’s another thing changing as we age. When we had a whole bunch of kids and we were struggling to acclimate, we were so busy that we didn’t realize how much we missed our extended family. Now, with fewer day-to-day demands upon us at home, all my siblings living here, and my parents here at least seven months each year, Goldie has come to feel the absence of her sisters more than she used to. (We see her brother and his family quite often here in Israel).

So she’s there for a couple of weeks. If you bump into her, say hi. And express amazement that she trusted me with the kids and house for so long.

Shmuel Katz, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July 2006. Before making aliyah, Shmuel was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at


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