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In honor of Israel’s 70th year, we asked our alumni in Israel to share their aliyah story. Read Judy (Dorevitch) Simon’s (’83) 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?

1994 when I was 28

Did your experience in high school influence your decision to make aliyah and if so, how?

I believe it did. Israel was seen as a positive goal (though not required) for every Jew.

What was your path to aliyah like?

When in Israel, I decided to make Aliyah, but I first returned to Chicago to get a degree. I made three goals: to maintain my Hebrew, to visit at least every 5 years, and to only date boys that were interested in making Aliyah. When my husband and I became engaged, we promised each other that we would make Aliyah by the age of 30. When we were married two years, on Rosh Hashana, we decided to re-examine why we were still in Chicago, making progress in our careers, but not in our Aliyah. The following summer, we made a pilot trip to Israel, and chose an Aliyah date. B”H we were able to fulfill our dream.

What has been the most rewarding about living in Israel?

Living a full Jewish life in a country where Jewish life is the majority. Celebrating Jewish holidays that are national holidays. Living in the land of the Tanach, about which I had learned in school.

What is the most challenging part of making aliyah?

Feeling comfortable in Hebrew, adapting to the culture, finding the right community for us (B”H we have succeeded in all three!)

Where do you live now?
Beit El

What do you do professionally?

English teacher for Israeli students

What is your advice for our students today?

When you visit Israel for your year, do so with a positive outlook (as opposed to always comparing with the way you are used to doing things). Look for the positive. Also, don’t be afraid to speak Hebrew, even with lots of mistakes. It’s ok to make mistakes because it’s how you learn the language. Look for role models, people and families who lead lives in a way you may want to lead your life in the future, and keep in touch with them. Remember that this is the Land in which the Torah was meant to be lived!

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