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As Israeli’s struggle to deal with the recent reality of Arab attacks, we are seeking out our alumni living there to hear firsthand what their lives are like–how they are coping, continuing to live their lives and remaining strong. This first post comes from Neeli Engelhart, who made aliyah with her family, including fellow alum, Ari, just over a year ago. If you would like to submit a post to our Academy Stories blog, email

Our son Max was appointed the Aba Shel Shabbat in his second grade class this week. His job included writing a dvar Torah on Parshat Lech Lecha in his own words to present before his classmates. So we sat down to learn the Parsha. And as we learned the pesukim, Max read in his amazing accent the words of Hashem to Avram. That Avram should leave his land, his birthplace and his father’s home and follow God to that the land that he will show to Avram. As Max realized right away, last year we felt a little like Avram. We left many important and familiar things and people to come to Israel.

Later in the Parsha, Hashem tells Avram to lift up his eyes and look out from where he was standing to the north, south, east and west and see the land that Hashem will give to him and to his offspring. It brought Max back to the moments before landing on our aliyah flight when we flew over Israel and watched our amazing homeland come into view. We were the offspring of Avraham Aveinu, returning to our promised land.

We are living through a difficult time in Israel. Innocent lives are being lost to violence all over the streets of Israel. Everyone is looking over their shoulders and proceeding through their day with caution. Our mostly carpool-free Modiin life has turned into lots of taxiing children to and from school and chugim (activities). But we have also learned, yet again, about how supportive friends and family can be even from afar, the phone calls, texts, emails and Facebook updates have been a clear reminder. The outpouring of support and tefillot for the soldiers and the families that have been affected by this latest surge of violence has been incredible. Life here moves forward. Bnei Akiva’s Chodesh Irgun is here, preparations are underway. Tiyulim with school are still scheduled for the upcoming weeks, the movie theaters across Israel were packed today as we celebrated movie day in Israel, and we baked Challot to prepare to take part in the Shabbos Project. We daven for an end to the violence, and a return to the normal ups and downs of Israeli life that we have come to love.

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