Five years ago today – August 19, 2009 – I fulfilled my dream of making aliyah and became an Israeli citizen.

In New York just before my aliyah flight
When I came on the Nefesh B’Nefesh flight 5 years ago, I really didn’t know what would await me.  I knew that it was my dream to live in Israel and become a citizen, but I also knew that many people who make aliyah without family here in Israel end up returning to their home countries within about 2-3 years.  It is not easy to build a life here in Israel as a lone immigrant, which is why just over a year ago I wrote an article for the Jerusalem Post outlining the steps that I took to ensure that my aliyah was one that would not last just a few years.

The support of my family during my 5 years here has been amazing and ironically has been quite instrumental in my staying in Israel and building a life here.  From a very early age my parents taught me two things:
1. Follow your Dreams
2. You can do anything you want if you “put your mind to it”
When my passion for Israel developed in high school and intensified in college, I told my parents that it was my dream to live in Israel.  Although I am sure it was hard for them to imagine their daughter living on the other side of the world, they always said if that is what I wanted to do, they would support me, which is exactly what they did.  I decided after my studies at UT Austin to do graduate school at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to see if I wanted to make aliyah.  I wanted to live in Israel a few years, learn Hebrew and see if I could begin building the foundations for a life here.  My family supported this and encouraged me to “give it a try”.
It was obvious for me after just a few months in Israel that I wanted to stay and make aliyah.  I know this decision was hard for several members of my extended family who understood that this would mean less time being together and seeing each other.  To be honest, it was hard for me as well and still is.  My family is my life, and I wish I could see them more frequently, but at the same time, building a life and family in Israel is something I have wanted to do for a very long time.  While it is difficult to be away from my family, I am extraordinarily lucky to have their support and encouragement.
So much has happened in these 5 years in Israel: I have had 3 jobs at 3 different companies; lived in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and now Shoham; and most importantly met my best friend and fiance Moshe.
With my parents and Moshe during a family trip this year
In just a few more months, I will be reunited with most of my extended family for my wedding here in Israel.  To be celebrating the beginning of the next stage of my life with my family and Moshe’s family is something that I could have only dreamed of 5 years ago.  But as I learned from a young age, dreams do come true and you can in fact make them a reality with enough effort and determination.
As Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, so wisely said, “If you will it, it is no dream.”