“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
It's very hard to understand why Hashem picked me to become a religious Jew. Yes, I was born to Jewish parents, but I was raised in a family that had the most minimal connection to its Jewish heritage. I had zero Jewish education as a child. The vast majority of my Jewish memories date from when I was in my 20s and became interested in Judaism on my own. Decades later, I'm married to a rabbi and live a fully Jewish life in Israel.
No one who knew me was at all surprised when I made aliyah. Once on the path, it was a natural progression on my journey, always seeking a closer relationship with God.
Last night, I met a woman whose recent aliyah probably surprised a lot of people.
She's an older woman, easily in her eighth decade of life. She came on aliyah alone. With a few suitcases. No household goods. Fewer than 10 words of Hebrew. No Jewish education. No friends of family in Israel. No Jewish lifestyle.
Whatever possessed her to come?
Last night, she told me, "Ever since I first heard the word 'Israel', I knew I had to come. This is home now. I'm never going back."
She's of extraordinary good cheer, even though she knows almost nothing about Israel and what lies ahead. Already a cadre of good neighbors have come to her assistance. Yet, in many ways, she is as vulnerable here as a newborn.
I am blown away by the soul of this woman that pulled her halfway around the world.
And her courage. The courage to become who she really is.