Aliyah was a dream that my wife and I had, sometimes talking about it as a dream for the distant future. As we became parents to four children, we looked around and considered the best place to raise them. We visited Israel on a pilot trip last January to see if we should move there.
We were especially drawn to Israel because of the love that Israelis showed to our little children, the oldest of whom was then only five years old. One example: At the end of a long and tiring three weeks of traveling and dragging them around the country last winter, we arrived at Ben Gurion with our cute screaming family. This time they were begging for a pizza pie just like the maintenance workers in the airport lounge were eating. It was impossible for us to get past security to get our children pizza, but the maintenance workers understood the situation (if not the language) and they generously gave half their pizza to our children to enjoy. Afterward, they swept the floor and cleaned up after the mess that our children made with the pizza.
This kindess shown to our children by strangers helped seal the deal for me and assured me that Israel should be the place for us to build a home where our children could learn to welcome others and help those in need in the spirit of Abraham and Sarah.
We made aliyah in August, shortly before the school year began. We live in Modiin, a modern, planned city with parks at every turn so that families can take their small children outside to enjoy life. Our children climb new learning curves every day in gan and elementary school as they absorb a new language and life lessons. When I look at my children, I think about how amazing it is to be living in the Promised Land. I pray not only for safety and peace for my family and home in the present, but also for the future, so that my children and future generations will continue the effort to build and strengthen Israel in peace.
Rabbi Akivah Herzfeld, a Wexner Graduate Fellowship Alum (Class 16), made Aliyah to Israel in August, and is currently in Ulpan classes in Maccabim. He previously served as Rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh in Portland, Maine. He holds a B.A. from Yeshiva University, an M.A. from Columbia University and ordination from the YCT Rabbinical School. He and his wife Michal are the proud parents of Aryeh, Devora, Avram, and Tali. Akiva can be reached at email@example.com.