Updated: May 5, 2021
Aliyah Date: January, 2019
Made Aliyah from Novato, California
Currently living in Jerusalem
Sarah knew from her first visit to Israel that she wanted to make Aliyah. What made her Aliyah different than others? Scroll down to find out!
Originally from sunny California, Sarah made Aliyah at the beginning of 2019. She came to Israel for the first time, like many others, on Birthright. On her trip, she felt a part of her soul that had been dormant her whole life had woken up. She says, "There's something so tangible and magical in the air here. I knew I wanted to make Aliyah on Birthright.”
When she went back to the States all she could think of was moving to Israel. That led her to volunteer 10 months of her time to a MASA program, teaching English in Bat Yam. She knew at the end of those 10 months, she would make Aliyah and be here to stay. Sarah got a job in tech working in sales for an amazing company, Panorays. She's proud to work for an Israeli company and to contribute to the "Start-Up Nation".
In terms of her process of settling in Israel, she explains, "My Aliyah to Tel Aviv was actually easy, everything worked out. Even when I got into a minor car accident with a rental car I had while shopping for my apartment, they ended up switching it out for a bigger car. The bedframe I needed wouldn't have fit in the first car; everything just fell into place. The harder part of my Aliyah has been moving to Jerusalem. I know it's Jerusalem, and it comes with the territory because it's such a holy place. Like anything in life, there are always things to overcome.”
As part of her Aliyah, a kiruv rabbi (a person who works in reaching out to Jews to help them connect to Judaism) from Inspired Tel Aviv suggested that she think about converting. At first, she thought he was crazy because her love for Israel was not from a religious perspective.
During her MASA program, she had been exposed to Orthodox Judaism but didn't connect to it. However, after speaking to the kiruv rabbi, she was curious. The seed had been planted in her mind. She was going to make Aliyah and she wanted to be halachically Jewish (convert through Jewish law), "And then it became my soul's purpose to return to Am Israel".
According to Israel's Law of Return, the only requirement for Aliyah is one Jewish grandparent. You can get all the same Aliyah benefits, but if you want to get married and you do not have a Jewish mother... you can’t.
When Sarah went to the Misrad Hapnim (Ministery of Interior) to get her Teudat Zehut (Israeli ID) they asked for the required letter from her rabbi regarding her Judaism, which stated that only her father was Jewish. In Israel, a person's nationality is listed on their ID, so on her ID, it was originally printed that she was not Jewish.
Sarah started the journey of converting through Nativ in July of 2019 with Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn at the Tel Aviv International Synagogue, completed the process this past June, and received her official certificate of conversion a few weeks ago. She is looking forward to finally having her TZ say “Jewish.”
What is the best part of aliyah?
"Every sunset in Israel, no matter where you are in the country, is stunning. There is something about the sunsets in Israel, there's nothing like it in the world. When you take the train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and you see this is the land, it blows my mind with what we’ve done with this country in 72 years. People dream about living in Israel and we actually get to do it, this is it!”
Sarah's advice for anyone making Aliyah
"It's important that people aren’t running away from something, but running towards something. No one is moving to Israel because it’s easy; you move here because it’s the Jewish homeland. People don’t move to Israel to live a life of luxury, it's because they can't possibly imagine living anywhere else."