By Jessica Cutter

You may remember me from last year, the new oleh who wrote about the ups, downs, ins and outs of making Aliyah with four kids. From the shores of Long Beach, to the hills of Modiin.

Year two, so far, has in many ways required a whole new blog for itself. If year one was the year everything was new and exciting, then year two so far is the year in which everything takes on meaning. After a year of settling into our new lives, we are now able to experience things through regular life’s lenses, rather than through the magnification with which we looked at and experienced things in the first few months of Aliyah.

Things that were new and fresh last year have become normal, and our lives have taken on a routine that has become our new reality. Some days, that reality means that at the end of the day if you haven’t been honked at or yelled at by a random angry Israeli on the street, you can call it a good day. Other days that reality means your heart swells with the overwhelming sense of pride and privilege that is felt as a Jew living in our Jewish homeland.

Recently, Israel’s south was battered by rockets from Gaza following the killing of a senior leader of an Iran backed militant group by the IDF. What this meant for most people in Israel was that their news feed blew up with notifications of rockets fired in areas such as Sderot, which are often the target of rocket attacks from Gaza. But in Modiin on Tuesday November 12, we received notice that all schools were closed due to the current security situation, and at 10:17 a.m. the siren went off, alerting us of a rocket attack headed for Modiin.

As the siren wailed, my oldest and I froze and stared at each other, fear overtaking our bodies. After a few seconds which seemed like minutes, we both snapped back to reality and immediately gathered the younger kids and headed to our bomb shelter room. The kids quickly understood that this wasn’t a test, this wasn’t a drill, this was the real thing, and it was our first threat while living in Israel, the first threat so close to home where the danger of living in Israel felt so real it was palpable.

After 10 minutes when we emerged from the bomb shelter, unsure of what to expect, we received word that the iron dome had successfully intercepted the rocket headed for an area only a few minutes from our house. Relief washed over us and we immediately joined together to thank Hashem for protecting us. As the day progressed and I reflected on the morning’s activity, and really began to internalize it all, I only felt one thing – gratitude. Gratitude for so much, but most importantly for the men and women who fight for us every single day to maintain the right to live as Jews in the land that is OURS. We took our Israeli flag proudly, waving it in the wind, as I talked with my children about what we had gone through together, and what living in Israel means, even in times of unrest.

In today’s world, most of us live in constant ME mode, focused on ourselves and our immediate world, forgetting to look at the bigger picture. As a Jew, no matter your religious background, you take that time to reflect and look at the bigger picture twice a year – on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. As an American, that time of reflection and appreciation is done on Thanksgiving and New Years. But as an Israeli Jew, I find myself reflecting, assigning meaning to my life, and feeling grateful, far more often. I feel truly grateful for each and every small stride that my family and I make in our Aliyah journey, big or small. And I am also grateful for all of you – reading our journey and coming along on it with us. AM YISRAEL CHAI!

Jessica Cutter made Aliyah on the Nefesh B’Nefesh July 24, 2018 charter Aliyah flight with her husband Azi and four children from Long Beach, N.Y. Since its founding in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNF-USA, has facilitated the Aliyah of over 60,000 North Americans to Israel.

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