Coming Home to Israel
Guest Blog by Ilana Altschuler Amiel
Each of us has a very unique story and experience as to why we decided to squeeze our old lives in a suitcase and leave everything behind. Ilana wants to share her story and hopefully encourage someone out there who is still thinking about coming to Israel to decide to make this country their home.
For me, Aliyah is a feeling of home, belonging, endless love and so much more. My “Israel love story” started a while back, when I was just the sweet, 18-year-old me. My life was forever changed when I set foot on the land with Taglit Germany. I knew I was home and came back home as a different person.
The most significant moment that changed me and so deeply touched my soul was when we went to the Kotel with our group just before Shabbat. At that time I had no idea what was going on. Since I grew up the “opposite of religious or traditional life”, suddenly I saw girls dancing and hugging and wishing each other good things and some of them took my hand and invited me to enjoy with them. Just the thought of it gives me goosebumps until today. I could have never imagined that “strangers” could evoke those feelings in me. I felt invited and welcomed and just at the right place. It felt like family.
Today I know that this is a true feeling of “Am Yisrael”. A feeling of belonging. Our ancestors made such a long journey to come here and overcame so many obstacles that it is an honor for each Jewish soul to be here, in Eretz Israel. My “homecoming” took way longer than I wanted. But what do I know... probably it just wasn’t the right time and I needed to grow with myself.
The love of Israel also helped me to discover my roots and come closer to Judaism. Studying in a seminary in Jerusalem was something very special. Judaism is teaching me to appreciate what I have today and to learn from the journey I’m on. There is still so much to discover and to build.
I have lived in a few places (5 in total) and made a whole round before finally, my long-life dream came true and I could finally make Aliyah. For the first time ever I wasn’t a foreigner – a term that I was always called and that I feel in every other place in the world.
When we make Aliyah we “rise up”. Of course, it’s not easy, not at all! Let’s not be so naive. A new language, a different culture. So many obstacles on the way and just a middle eastern balagan but it’s our mess that’s the huge difference.
After the first time coming back from Israel, a thought crossed my mind: “You either love Israel or you simply don’t understand it”. My opinion hasn’t changed. It’s similar to loving a person, we are all not perfect. This is how G-d created us so we can grow and we don’t make Aliyah cause it’s easier but because we belong here. So, today I can’t be more grateful to call Eretz Israel my home.
Guess most of us heard about the Israeli chutzpah? Well, I’m not there yet, actually, people often smile and tell me that I’m way too polite. But what I can say is that Israel (and my Israeli husband) have given me the inner confidence to believe more in myself. Just a bit over a year ago I was working in Marketing and PR but always found my inspiration and had a deep connection towards art and fashion. I have many hobbies and pursued a few projects whereby I created handmade items. My main inspiration has always been “colors” it’s truly a gift that we can go outside and see all the beautiful colors out there in nature. My aim is to spread these colors across my artworks and make people happy. That’s the reason I love to create funky designs. We are all blessed with talents and God helps us to find the right way to share them. I like to create Judaica pieces cause I love the concept of “beautifying a Mitzvah”. So you can find it in my latest collection challot/mezuzot covers, hamsot, etc. I invite you to follow my art journey on @613waystohappiness and see my latest project of handmade headcovers @studio.osher the inspiration, therefore, came from the same first trip to Israel, which I can proudly call home today. I remember seeing women with huge turbans on their heads and not knowing why they are doing it, I looked at them and saw pure beauty. I would love to encourage everyone to listen to their inner voice and follow their dream. It doesn’t mean that it will happen overnight but believing in yourself is the key to real happiness. Yours, Ilana