Aliyah Memories of New Beginnings By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

I cannot believe that 13 years have passed since my husband and I set foot in our first home in  Jerusalem. I can vividly recall many facets of the unfolding of that auspicious day, in spite of being completely physically and emotionally drained. The one Aliyah memory that stands out and  truly personified new beginnings was our arrival in the Old City of Jerusalem, the eternal and holy capital of Israel…our new place of residence. A part of me  felt like a child, so in awe of her surroundings, about to enter the Palace of The King.  It reminded me of  how the Jews must have felt crossing the reed sea, leaving slavery behind and going forward into new beginnings. My spiritual knees were trembling as I walked towards our new home.

When we arrived in the old city, we were kindly greeted by the son of a friend. He helped us with our bags and guided us to our apartment because we had actually forgotten the exact location. When he opened the door for us, he said in the most casual way, “Welcome to your new home! This apartment has been waiting for you your whole life!”  I was stunned by his prophetic words and I remember shockingly saying to myself, yes, it is true! I breathed in the resonance of the truth of his statement and the full force of the privilege and giftedness of being in G-ds chosen land, the spiritual epicenter of the universe, unleashed  my long restrained emotions, and the tears began to flow.Can you imagine standing in a place where you know your soul is going to come alive in a way you cannot even comprehend, but you know its true? It is frightening, exhilarating, wondrous and at the same time discombobulating. Now that’s a word I haven’t used in a long time.

After our friends departure, I remember  feeling a bit dazed, so I slowly walked around opening up all the windows and the door to the balcony. I slowly became aware of the light streaming into the apartment. It seemed to grab hold of me in some mystical way and I remember saying to myself, I am Coming Into The Light! Those words felt compelling and held some deep meaning to me which I did not understand at the time but would ultimately comprehend as time went on.  I felt a rather strange glimmer of intuition as if a spiritual convergence of some kind was happening. It was an amazing experience and one I had never felt before.

I felt a strange fascination with the unfolding of our future as time went on.  My husband and I knew we were in for a spiritual overhaul but we had no idea how it would play out. It was mystifying yet exciting.  As time went on, we would learn in a very meaningful way that all the challenges we would face, would be a direct result of coming into the light of Aliyah. These Aliyah memories of new beginnings continue to impart renewed inspiration to my soul and serve to remind me, I will always be crossing the seas of life to new beginnings.

My dear friends, if you knew what you stand to gain by returning home to this most extraordinary Jewish country, even with all its challenges, you would run to the  nearest Aliyah office and say, Sign Me Up, I guarantee it. The Aliyah memories you create with your own personal new beginnings will hold a lifetime of inspiration.

To celebrate my 13 year anniversary, I want to share with you some of my favorite places and things to do.

Favorite Places: Ein Gedi Kibbutz in the Dead Sea Area: Gorgeous Kibbutz with great accommodations. The only botanic gardens in the world where people live.  Includes Free pass to Dead Sea Spa. Hamat Gader: Ancient spa ruins with modern mineral pools. Beach at Naharia:  the water is very tame and it has lots of places with shade coverings. Nature parks in the north, Beit Shean: Great ancient Roman ruins, Adir winery  in the Galilee for brunch….all homemade bread, jams and goat cheeses which taste amazing, Golan winery wine-tasting, Hevron: Tomb of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs. Naval Museum in Haifa. Shilo, where the ancient Mishkan stood. The grave of Rachel and the list goes on.

Favorite Things to Do: Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Tel Aviv Arts Fair held on Tuesdays and Fridays only, but a Must see. IDF museum in Tel Aviv..Exceptional. Beach excursions. Gathering for Kohanic Blessings during Sukkot at the Kotel. Sukka hopping. Purim outings to give away goodies to IDF base and outposts. Exploring new towns and cities. Temple Institute in Jerusalem. One of my personal favorites…. Lit Chanukah Menorahs throughout the Jewish  neighborhoods….Beautiful, Moving and Inspirational.  Israel has it all.

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