Real Life Stories and Experiences of Yidden Settling in Eretz Yisroel.
Until 2006, at the great pleading of good friends of ours, who had made Aliyah a few years back, my husband Dovid had never been to Eretz Yisroel and I had only come once before as a teenager on a sponsored trip. The entire trip was a total of three weeks. But those three weeks were our turning point. We went home knowing we were coming back, for good. We just didn’t know when.
Dovid and I spent more than the last 40 years teaching, bringing up our 7 children, and involved with our Jewish community. Quebec, Canada had been our home from even before we got married. I taught Chumash, Navi, history to 4th graders in the day girls’ school and my husband taught 3rd graders and special Ed in the boys’ school.
Aliyah had never been a discussion, thought and certainly not in our plans for retirement. Between our fears of not being able to manage financially, heeding warnings of taking teenagers on Aliyah and caring for our elderly parents, besides not being fluent in the language making Aliya wasn’t on the radar.
But after that trip, my husband couldn’t stay away. He would visit every summer for a few weeks to breathe in the special kedusha of E.Y. He would ask yearly ‘should I start looking for a place?’ One year, I finally answered yes. Our (same) friend showed him a location on a beautiful hill top that was still undeveloped with the planned blueprints in his hands. That was it. It seemed to fit everything we were looking for. We bought our new home on paper. It took a few years before it was done and we were ready to move in.
On the night President Trump won, our youngest daughter got married. As soon as we got home we started packing. A year later we moved into Ramat Beit Shemesh. We were finally home.
I recently wrote a book about my grandfather, which I presented to the family on the occasion of my grandson’s bar mitzvah who is named after him. And now I am writing for the family my father’s story.
My grandfather had come from Poland and moved to Frankfurt when my father was born. As Germany became more and more dangerous, they escaped and spent 9 years in Shanghai. When they finally were able to leave they landed in Quebec, Canada. There they were tired of running. So they stayed.
Quebec has never really been friendly to Jews. And today it is getting worse. People are openly anti-Semitic more than before and a large influx of Moslems have settled there. Just like in New York and England, Canada’s educational boards are mixing into the Jewish schools’ curriculum. The only difference is Canada’s has been doing longer, way ahead of other countries. It is truly a scary time in history. Only Israel is safe for Jews. Our family has been running, running for a long time. From Poland to Germany to Shanghai to Canada. We are done running. That is why we jumped to Israel. We are finally home.
Not that it is all easy. The hardest part is leaving our children. Baruch Hashem, they are all married, have jobs and are doing well, but I don’t see them coming to live here anytime soon. One couple is still in Canada and the other 6 couples are in the United States. I do see other olim, especially the older crowd, make Aliyah as they follow their children. We, however, welcome the grandchildren and nieces and nephews who come for their gap years. I don’t think they are going to make Aliyah so soon either. Recently BH, I went for three months for six different simichos in America. It is definitely hard to be so far from our children. Yet as the plane lands, I know we are home. This is home.
We have always been aware of Hashgacha pratis while we lived in Canada, yet it doesn’t compare to our daily awareness here. It is in the air, it is part of our daily living, it with us all the time. I am so aware of how Hashem provides everything for us. Looking at the beautiful view I have from my back porch, I can’t get over how Hashem is so part of our lives. And it is not just us. Everyone knows it. The taxi driver talks about it. The store keeper gets it. Even the non-religious handyman understands. People here are different about it; they talk about it. Naturally. Normally.
I once had a Jewish worker who didn’t wear a kipa fixing something in our house when he started to yell at us. He had noticed that we hadn’t yet put up our mezuzahs. In chutz laretz, one has a leniency of putting up mezuzahs up in a month. In E.Y. the halacha is different. One needs to put them up immediately. The regular maintenance guy knew better than us. And he cared. Like family.
We do believe it is important to come to Israel prepared. Whether it is with a job, money, friends, family, and a place to live. Yet, one needs to be flexible and see what works. We were lucky that Ramat Beit Shemesh seems to fit us perfectly.
In Eretz Yisroel we are all family. The grocery stocker, the plumber, and the policeman. We’re glad to be home.
Written By Tziyona Kantrowitz
This article is part of Matzav.com’s Haaretz Hatovah series featuring Yidden living in, settling, and building up Eretz Yisroel. For more info please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit naavakodesh.org/haaretz-hatovah