By Rachel Avraham
On June 23, 2009, I made Aliyah to Israel, leaving behind my family, my friends, and my favorite restaurants in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area. I have zero regrets about doing so. It is not because I dislike the United States. To the contrary, I very much respect the fact that the United States was a safe haven for my ancestors who didn’t want to do an extremely lengthy service in either the Russian or Ottoman Turkish armies. I also very much appreciate that by moving to the United States, my entire family was able to escape the horrors of the Holocaust that wiped out the Jewish communities of Lithuania, Latvia, and Greece, where my ancestors used to reside.
Nonetheless, despite the fact that America was a safe haven for my family and is a wonderful country in many respects, I would never give up my life that I currently have in Israel in order to continue living in the United States. For in my viewpoint, there is no better place for a Jew to live than inside the State of Israel. While my family living in the United States and other Diaspora Jews may not comprehend this because they have never lived my reality here, this does not mean that it is not the truth for a variety of reasons.
For starters, Israel is the one country in the world where vacations revolve around my holidays and not other people’s holidays. In the United States, Jewish workers don’t legally have to be financially compensated for taking off for Jewish holidays. When I was studying at the University of Maryland, I sometimes would have papers due during Jewish holidays and would need to switch around exam dates because of Jewish holidays. I never had these issues during grad school in Israel.
Secondly, Israel is the one place on the planet where public schools educate firstly and foremost about Jewish history and to not address it as a marginal part of the curriculum. When I was in high school in the United States, the only Jewish history all students at my school learned about was the Holocaust and a one day lecture about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in world history class. Yet, there is so much more to Jewish history than the Holocaust and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And private Jewish schools are very expensive in the US. Thus, I want my children to benefit from a strong Jewish education, regardless of my economic status.
Thirdly, it is significantly easier to find a Jewish husband in Israel than in the United States. When I was living in the United States, I didn’t have much luck finding for myself a Jewish husband. It is very difficult to find a decent spouse who is compatible to oneself, especially when you only have between 2 to 3 percent of the population to choose from. However, the second that I moved to Israel on a one-year-study abroad program was the second that I met the love of my life. My future husband literally turned up in the laundry room within a week after stepping foot in Israel. Thus, living in Israel is the best way to ensure that your children will marry Jewish people and that your descendants will be Jewish.
Furthermore, as someone who is in love with studying history, it is critical to take note that Israel is one of the most historically rich places in the world to live. In the United States, a building that is only a couple of hundred years old is considered a historic landmark. However, in Israel, there are Jewish archeological finds dating back thousands of years. Only in Israel can I spend holidays enjoying an ancient Byzantine synagogue in Baram, a late Roman era synagogue in Ein Geddi, a Second Temple era mikva, the Western Wall, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and the City of David, where King David built his palace.