How will you be greeted when you finally arrive here in Israel? Or, if you’re already here, how were you greeted?
Was it a depressing, bewildering, lonely aliyah story (I’ve heard my share of those) or an upbeat, thrilled, amazing aliyah story?
I really hope your story is as beautiful as that of friends of ours from Toronto (let’s call them Chana and Shlomo), who just arrived last week. What made the difference for them?
When you read her email, I think you’ll figure it out right away.
Happy Aliyah to me
Happy birthday to me .
Happy Aliyah on my birthday !
.........Happy Aliyah to me !!!..........
YES., we arrived on _____, my birthday and became Israelis. This birthday was my absolute best birthday EVER.
_____ and the girls stopped by today. That was sweet and fun!
Check out the artwork of theirs that was on our door when we got here. Our friends _____ took us out for dinner at _____ where I ordered the _____ ...wow!
We are still floating but feel so deeply about being home here at last.
Hope to see you really soon.
Lots of love to you guys, Chana and Shlomo
So what made the difference for them between a lonely, depressing aliyah story and a happy, exciting one?
- It's not hard.
- It's not fancy.
- It's not expensive.
- It’s being greeted. Being welcomed. Seeing friends.
Knowing there were folks here who knew that they were arriving on that exact day… and cared enough to show it. That made a difference for this couple, who have had their share of challenges on the “way up.”
Making olim feel welcome
If you’re already in Israel…
If you are already living in Israel, don’t forget to reach out to others who are just arriving.
Friends here in Kiryat Shmuel (they weren’t friends yet, but are now) brought us a lasagna on our first night here, when we were just off the plane and utterly overwhelmed.
I remember looking at the containers of cut-up vegetables she handed us and realizing I had no idea where to buy either containers or the vegetables to put in them.
How was I going to feed my family in this strange new country? I just felt so, so grateful for that one simple supper.
You can do that for other new olim.
(Did someone welcome you in a special way when you arrived? Do you wish they had? Share your ideas about welcoming olim in the Comments!)
If you’re still on your way…
And if you’re still on your way, remind people here that you’re coming! Let them know the date. Tell them exactly what you need.
A new couple moved in down the block a few weeks ago. They had all their appliances except a fridge… which they needed to keep their medication at the right temperature. So we worked out a little routine for a few days where we’d give them a fresh ice pack every morning and chill the “used” one for the next 24 hours.
It was utterly simple for us. It cost nothing and didn’t inconvenience us in any way.
Yet for anyone fresh off the plane, it can mean so, so much to know there are neighbours around, people to call, someone to chill your ice pack.
If you’re new in town, people will love to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Let them know what you need and I really hope they will rise to meet all your most mind-blowing expectations.
I’d love to hear your “happy landing” stories and find out what made the difference in your life here in Israel. Let me know in the comments.
Meanwhile, happy landings to all of us: past, present and future new olim!