In honor of Israel’s 70th year, we asked our alumni in Israel to share their aliyah story. Read Susan Kirshner-Sheldon’s (’92) 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?
2014 at 39 years old
Did your experience in high school influence your decision to make aliyah and if so, how?
Between ICJA and Camp Moshava, I developed a love for Israel and knew it was our homeland. It was a given that I would be spending a year in Israel post graduation which then solidified my desire to live here. ICJA gave me the background and training I needed to learn here and explore the country.
What was your path to aliyah like?
Long! I had wanted to stay after my gap year and attend Bar Ilan but it’s difficult to be away from family so I went back to America and stayed until 2014. I came back to Israel to visit as much as possible and once my decision to make aliyah was put in motion, I made it happen quickly. I had waited long enough and the timing was right. After that it was a smooth process.
What has been the most rewarding about living in Israel?
Meeting people from all different walks of life and around the globe who are all here because they have a common belief that Israel is the place for all Jews to live – whether or not they actually believe in the State of Israel. Celebrating the little things that make you realize you have adjusted here and made it your home – like negotiating prices at the shuk or sharing helpful information with a new oleh/olah that you wish someone had told you when you first arrived on aliyah.
What is the most challenging part of making aliyah?
Getting used to a different culture, language and mentality. Just because you are part of a larger Jewish nation doesn’t mean that everyone has your best interests at heart. People here are very aggressive but the same ones who push ahead of you in line are those who are your doctors and nurses and take care of you when you need it the most.
Where do you live now?
What do you do professionally?
What is your advice for our students today?
Come on aliyah at a young age when you can go to university here and acclimate better to the culture. Being in the work force here can be difficult when you are mid-career and change your life or your field. The friends you make here become your family. There’s a sense of community and support when you are all on your own, growing together. There’s no real sense of competition but there is a lot of support.