Updated: May 5, 2021
Meet Kayla, an Olah from New Jersey, and our newest member of the iKonnect content team! Read about her ups and downs in Israel...
Kayla never thought she would make Aliyah. Like so many others, she fell in love with Israel during her year of seminary. But Aliyah was far from planned - she was supposed to go to college in America after seminary. Instead, she deferred university and came to Israel to do Sheirut Leumi.
The feeling of needing to live in Israel started when Kayla went to an army base in the south near Gaza on a tour. She said, "If I want to call Israel my home, I need to be here. I have to live here."
She started out in Sheirut Leumi, living in Ma'ale Adumim and working with kids. She had no idea how difficult it would be. The whole experience was very hard -- for the first 2-3 months, Kayla really struggled. She was working in Hebrew, and this was very difficult. She was very young and living on her own in a country far away. She has no family in Israel, so the transition proved difficult. But still, she pushed forward through the homesickness.
Though Kayla doesn't dwell on this anymore, she remembers her first couple of months here. And she remembers when it all started to turn around....started creating a network of friends and people who were on the same path.
"Then I started understanding the value of community."
She realized that even though the start was slow and hard, she could make it here! "We fall in order to rise."
After her Sheirut Leumi, Kayla studied Social Work at Bar Ilan University. She was living in Givat Shmuel, studying all in Hebrew, and practicing as a therapist all in Hebrew. Kayla had to really push herself, but she explains, "When there is an end in sight, the work to get there is always easier."
When she finished school, she moved to Jerusalem and worked as a social worker for three years, working with teens at risk. her first job was in Hebrew, and that still posed difficultly. Kayla says, "You feel like people are judging you, and you're an outsider. At a certain point, you realize a few things. Israel is a country of immigrants. It's so ingrained and infused into Israeli culture that immigrants are here. But people care about you and are in awe of what you do. The second this turns into your home, and you stop feeling like a visitor, you become so confident. This is who I am, and you bring that to the country."
While the therapy field is Kayla's passion, she was ready for a change. Now she is living in Tel Aviv and focusing on writing. She has always loved writing -- the creativity and process. That's how Kayla ended up at iKonnect! We are so incredibly happy to have her positivity and vibrance on our team.
Kayla advises, "Let Israel show you its new gems. You might live in Jerusalem for a while and decide you need a change of scenery."
Kayla's decision to make Aliyah has created a ripple effect on her family. In two years, her parents will be making Aliyah. She says, "You have to be the pioneer. You have to create change if no one else is. Take the first step."