Orot Israel was not only a seminary that I went to for a year at the age of 17 years old, but it was also a seminary that instilled values and impacted me to live a way of life I apply and cherish to this very day.
I was born in Montreal, Canada, the youngest of five and my parents were Israeli. Every time my family used to visit Israel, I remember inhaling the special air, that “Israeli” smell and instantly I felt an inner peace. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and my sister Hagit z’l lived in Israel when I was young, so it truly felt like my second home.
I would consider myself an optimistic person, but after my year at Orot, I landed in Montreal and felt like a knife stabbed me in the heart. I did not go out for days, I did not see my friends and even felt like a stranger in my own home. I knew that I was going to go back to Israel.
Orot taught me the meaning of Ahavat and Torat Eretz Israel. Since I went to a Chareidi school, I was never taught those concepts and HaRav Kook was not part of their lexicon.
The Rabbanim and Rabbaniot at Orot led me to a road of self-discovery, instilled in me the love of learning, inspired me to become a better version of me, and molded my character to what it is today. Rav Shvat with his classes about Torat Eretz Israel and erev shira added so much spirituality to my soul. The brilliant HaRav Ziv Or, Rabbi Leibtag, Rabbi Alex Israel and Rabbi Weiss to name a few, all impacted me and shed light upon the importance of learning Torah in Israel.
Learning in Elkana, secluded from all the seminaries, absorbed in the beauty of nature and serenity, enhanced my appreciation of Israel.
I also learned the meaning of true friendship. I am still in touch with many of my seminary friends and have a special connection to them. My friends taught me loyalty, honesty and loved me for who I am. I had three English roommates from England which made me nervous at first, but they quickly became my best friends. Our deep connection rooted in the fact that we had fun together as well as learnt together and had really meaningful conversations about all aspects of life. I have to mention one of my closest friends Deganit (Zarum) Glick z’l who passed away less than a year ago. She made Aliyah from England and always used to push me to make Aliyah. She was such a kind, funny and honest person who taught me about boys, waxing and everything else in between. I loved her so much and I know that she instilled her love of Israel to her husband and children she left behind.
The trips Orot took us on also sparked my love of Israel and my yearning to live here. One of my most memorable trips was Eilat. Orot took us to the deserted part of Eilat where the mountains looked like they reached the sky and went on forever. We hiked on many mountain tops until our legs felt like they were falling off. When we hiked for hours on one specific mountain surrounded by only the desert and the blazing sun, we finally reached the peak all hot, sweaty and thirsty and in the distance laid the most magical sea, glistening in the sunlight. There in the silence we absorbed the sight of the wonder that was Israel. Other memorable trips like Masada, hikes up North and the many Shabbatot spent in such unique places such as Chevron and Ofrah internalized the learning at Orot about Israel, its beauty and holiness. Learning all night on Shavuot and walking to the Kotel for Shacharit with hundreds of other seminaries was such an unforgettable moment. I had a feeling of belonging to something bigger than myself, to a nation in the Holy Land.
When I went on my first date at age 19 to whom I would eventually marry and have 5 beautiful girls with, I made sure that he had that same love and passion for Israel. G-d always knows what is best and to my mazal he brought me my perfect match. Yarom and I got married in Montreal and eventually bought a house. Every year we would have discussions about moving to Israel and realized we were always giving excuses to stay. The pull and ease of living outside of Israel was extraordinarily strong. Eventually we both decided that it was time to make Aliyah before our eldest would be too old. The moment we decided to actively pursue our dream of making Aliyah, everything just came into place. We had a few bumps and skids on the way, but Yarom found a job before moving which is almost impossible, my parents who made Aliyah 2 years before closed a rental for us in Pardes Chana and everything just fit like a puzzle. It felt like G-d was helping and guiding us through the entire process knowing we were doing something good for our family.
My kids were ecstatic about the entire process. They gave away their most beloved toys because they knew there would be no room for everything. They did not care because they knew Israel was worth the price of giving away their materialistic things. They truly inspired me throughout the entire moving process.
The excitement was unbearable when the day finally arrived.
Landing 4 and a half years ago at 35 years of age with a husband and 5 children ages 8,7,4.5,2.5, and 8 months at Ben Gurion airport welcomed by flags and dancing people was a very emotional day to say the least. It was like a dream, still fuzzy in my head. I remembered my kids’ smiles, the hugs we got from our families who welcomed us, and I knew that our real journey of inner growth was beginning.
It was challenging at first, but after almost five years I can truly say that this has been the best decision we made for our family. We were met with such a warm and welcoming community in Pardes Chana and made such lasting friendships. We recently bought a house in Charish and I still cannot believe that we are moving into our first home in Israel, a dream come true.
As Orot has instilled in me the love and passion for Israel and Torah, I am passing that same love and yearning to my children and B.H. they will pass it on to their children.
I would like to thank Hashem for His guidance and all the good He has given me and my family. Thank you to my family and friends for their continuing support, encouragement and love. Thank you to my husband Yarom and my wonderful children for inspiring me every day. Lastly, I would like to thank Orot; Nomi Spanglet for her open house, guidance and insights and to the incredible educators for guiding me throughout my journey in Israel.