The Cutter family arriving in Israel

By Jessica Cutter

Last I left off, six months into our aliyah adventure, I found myself reflecting on the root of it all. As we experienced our first Tu B’shvat in Israel, one of many milestones along our journey, I felt a strong sense of conviction in why we chose to make aliyah in the first place. As I mentioned in my last article, choosing to make aliyah is choosing to root your life in a place in which it will grow best. It’s wild that in a country that is about as small as the state of New Jersey, where I grew up, there are so many choices of where to lay your Jewish roots once you make the aliyah leap. A large part of the aliyah process is choosing WHERE in Israel you want to plant your new roots. For our family, like with many families, that was not an easy decision and there were many things that helped us along the way to get to that final decision of WHERE in Israel to live.

Since writing this blog, I have been overwhelmed by the response, and have been reached out to by many who are embarking on the aliyah journey and are looking for guidance. Each person’s journey to aliyah is paved with different road markers, but it is important to use the resources out there to get you through the home stretch. While I am a very resourceful person, and I have friends and family in Israel, what was most important for me in this journey was leaning on the resources offered by Nefesh B’Nefesh to get us through it all. From the initial phase of looking into Aliyah more seriously, to actually sitting down and planning, to the final stages, and even to employment once we were in Israel, the resources that Nefesh B’Nefesh had to offer allowed us to gain the knowledge we needed to sit down and make educated decisions together as a family about our aliyah.

In March 2017 I submitted our online aliyah application through Nefesh B’Nefesh, and we made plans to attend their Mega Event in New York City, which provides every resource one can imagine to equip and inform people about making aliyah. The way we approached the Mega Event was to identify three areas where we wanted to gain more knowledge and structure our time spent there in order to maximize time spent on those areas.

The Mega Events are so incredibly comprehensive, and they literally have something for every type of person making aliyah and for every part of your aliyah journey. But it can sometimes be easy to get lost in it all and feel more confused after you end a very long and busy day. For our first Mega Event we set three goals: One, learn more about various places to live that would fit our family; two, review finances and taxes and how to plan for aliyah financially; and three, get excited about aliyah overall. I’m happy to say that at the end of the day I felt that we accomplished those three goals and were getting closer to where we needed to be to set our aliyah date.

What I found to be most helpful in our first Mega Event were the community sessions that featured different places to live throughout the country and had a representative from that community’s absorption center on hand, as well as someone who lives there. It helped us narrow down our search and understand what makes each community unique and where our family would fit best.

Overall, if I could be so bold as to give general advice to anyone considering aliyah, set small attainable goals at every stage and know which resources can help you achieve those goals. I have done my best to do just that, and it has proven very helpful in focusing my energy, helping me feel a sense of accomplishment, and keeping things real and manageable.

Now that we are seven months into our aliyah and the dust has settled, I just recently reminded myself to create three attainable goals for this next phase of our journey. For now they are: one, invest time and energy into three friends that I have made and try to deepen those connections; two, encourage my children to become more active in their classroom culture and not rely on the excuse of being Olim Chadashim; and three, take some time out to acknowledge and appreciate Hashem and his hand in every aspect of our lives and look to him for chizuk and strength overall.

The Nefesh B’Nefesh Mega Event, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNF-USA, will take place at the Glenpoint Marriot Hotel in Teaneck, NJ on March 10.

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