Making Aliyah at 18
In honor of Israel’s 70th year, we asked our alumni in Israel to share their aliyah story. Read Gidon Shoshan’s (’93) story below. Click here to return to the whole page of olim who submitted responses.
What year did you make aliyah and how old were you?
1993 at 18 years old
Did your experience in high school influence your decision to make aliyah and if so, how?
My relationship with Rabbi Meyer Juzint zt”l, a rebbe in the Academy for 50 years, influenced my commitment to Torah learning and Torah life in every way, and it was those commitments that were most central to staying in Israel.
What was your path to aliyah like?
Mark Twain said something like, “Giving up smoking is easy… I’ve done it hundreds of times.” And that is a bit like my story. I came to Israel to stay three times, but after the first two, I (and my family) spent two-year stints in New York and Los Angeles, before finally having the good fortune to move to Ramat Bet Shemesh in 2004, a most wonderful community in the Yerushalayim suburbs.
What has been the most rewarding about living in Israel?
The tempo of life that is in sync with the Jewish schedule. I get what I call “cheap Zionist thrills” from the Purim Sameachs and Shana Tovas that appear on buses and Coke bottles.
What is the most challenging part of making aliyah?
The surprisingly difficult path of children’s upbringing and education. Way too many children “go off the derech” in Israel, as they have difficulty navigating the very faint line between religious and secular societies. On the opposite side, many find the limits of the more segregated society too confining. Somehow, in these last days of galut, it’s not as easy as one would think.
What do you do professionally?
I teach and manage a large Jewish education foundation.
What is your advice for our students today?
Come to Israel to learn and grow — but make sure that personal growth is your primary goal. Prioritize your own personal development in the coming 5-10 years, and if being in a more spiritually nurturing environment in Chutz La’Aretz is better for you, by all means, do that. We will love to have you in Israel — but your future and ours depends on you being the most well-developed Ben or Bat Torah as you can be. If you come to Israel (or stay in Israel) with a solid Jewish future, your years and the years of your children and grandchildren will be fruitful ones!