Where I’m Meant To Be

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There was something I wanted. 

Something I was so busy dreaming of, it consumed my daily thoughts and seeped into my sleep. 

When I thought of it, my chest would feel heavy because of how much space it took up. 

I had a vision of a life I aspired to that many people dismissed because of how impossible it appeared. 

And yet, despite the negative feedback, there it was: A hope burning like a flame deep down inside. 


I had never visited Israel before. I had no connection at all.

I remember researching online about the country, trying to obtain some understanding as to why I was so drawn to it. It began in 2006 when Israel was entrenched in a war with Lebanon. Gripped with fear, I found that most of the videos online were footage of rockets falling from the sky. 

But there it was, this unexplainable pull to a foreign land, defying any sense of logic.

In that moment of reckoning, I did everything I could in my power to get there. Two years later, I was studying in a religious seminary in Tsfat.

There is one moment in particular from my time spent there that’s forever imprinted on my mind. I was being driven in a beaten-down car, on a rocky dirt road on a desert hilltop, on my way to a friend-of-a-friend for Shabbat. 

The sun was creeping towards the horizon and a sense of peace and belonging suddenly washed over me which I had never felt before. 

This is it. I decided at that moment. This is where I am meant to be. 

I wanted nothing more but to stay, but the pressure of financially supporting myself brought me back to America. Thus began my journey of an additional 12 years of wishing and hoping to make aliyah and two failed attempts at trying. The fire grew stronger inside of me each time. 

In 2018, married and with a daughter, my family and I decided that the year 2020 would be our goal to make aliyah. 

But then I became pregnant and the pandemic descended upon the world. The potential of aliyah began to slip away as everything crumpled around us. 

It was as if Heaven looked down at me and thought, “How badly does she really want this? Let’s see how far she’ll go to make it happen.”

March 2020, we were ready for the move. Our plans were to go in May before I was due, allowing us a few months to settle before the baby was born. 

But by the time that date arrived, we had finally accepted the unknown state of the world. Confused without direction, we began toying with the idea of staying in Seattle longer or switching our plans entirely and temporarily moving somewhere else in the US. 

I remember laying in bed crying during this time. I was stricken with sadness about the options in pivoting our plans. The two other choices we had on the table were safe and promising. But neither of them was what I really wanted. None of them aligned with the flame flickering desperately within my chest. 

It was then that I decided that this time, I wasn’t going to give up.

On June 30th, 2020, we shipped all of our possessions, pushing ourselves to commit to our goal. In my last month of pregnancy, living in an empty apartment, we spent endless hours navigating government offices in corona restrictions in order to get all the documentation ready for our unborn baby to move.  

On August 18th, 2020, four weeks after giving birth, we flew to San Francisco to receive my baby’s Israeli passport securing our ability to make aliyah. 

August 26th, 2020, 5 weeks postpartum, found us having emptied our apartment within 7 days, saying goodbye to friendships 6 years in the making, and packing our lives into 8 suitcases.

I imagined that landing in Israel would be the end to this tunnel of challenges. I was dreaming that when we landed, our transition into life would be effortless.  

But there was no honeymoon period.

Soon after arriving in our new home, we were immediately faced with a slew of challenges, including Israel going into a 3rd lockdown, my husband losing his American job, my daughter learning on Zoom in Hebrew, and a baby who never wanted to leave my arms. 

The stress of all of this together began to place its weight on our marriage, which was in a secure place before moving.

The joy of fulfilling my lifelong dream became intertwined with fear and pain. 

Each challenge we faced scratched a question mark of doubt into my being. Where there once was clarity was now fog. Had this been a mistake? Had I been so misguided by determination that I was unwilling to see the reality facing me? 

Maybe, I thought, we should give up before it gets worse. Maybe the move wasn’t worth this amount of pain and struggle. 

Just like that, a gust of wind extinguished the flame that burned inside of me for so long. 


It’s now been two years since moving here, and that initial fear and self-doubt has begun to slowly fade. 

Life seems to be falling into place. 

After 6 months of unemployment, my husband found a great job. Our daughter is slowly starting to understand Hebrew and adjust to her new school. Our baby now goes to daycare while I work from home as an illustrator. 

But not a day goes by that we aren’t presented with challenges. The wounds from the battle we endured to get here still ache in the shadows of our serenity. “You’re living the dream,” people comment looking in from the outside, and I return their comment with a smile and gulp of anxiety in my throat. “Yes, I am living my dream.” 

But dreams aren’t reality. A dream is a vision of what could be. It’s an impetus for courage and for change. 

Today I look back on my journey and ask myself, “Was it worth it?”

As I search for the answer, I focus my energy inwards where that flame used to be. Through the darkness I see a flickering of light healing the wounds. 

In the small actions of everyday life, my energy begins to feel re-aligned with my intentions and goals for this move.

I feel it when I lay in my hammock on a hot summer day, shaded by the olive tree in my backyard.

I feel it every day when the sun sets over the Judean mountains, its rays turning the buildings gold, and the wind whistles through the trees. 

Joy comes to me when I walk through the warm Mediterranean ocean, my feet digging into the soft sand. 

I feel aligned with my higher self whenever I walk down the streets of Jerusalem, connecting to the ancient history that permeates each stone.

I feel relief as a mother, knowing my children get to grow up in an environment with more freedom physically and religiously than what they would have had back in Seattle. 

I feel the Jewish holidays everywhere I go. Grocery stores carry religious items, buses display Chag Sameach on their dashboards and the cashiers wish me a Shabbat Shalom on Friday afternoons. 

Everything here feels like home to me. Everyone here is family. It’s who you are and what you’re doing that is valued. 

I can see now that my aliyah experience is about transformation and growth. That every new experience empowers me through each choice I meet in the future. 

These struggles have led to healing. 

And I know that I am exactly where I am meant to be.  

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