By Eliana Rudee, Read the Aliyah Annotated series in JNS.org
It happened. I’m officially an Israeli and I have an identification number that will stick with me (and my future children, G-d willing) to prove it! What a week it’s been—definitely one of the best in my life.
I was on a special flight chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that helps new immigrants through the process of making aliyah. Every summer, Nefesh B’Nefesh charters flights through the El Al airline in which everyone on the plane is making aliyah together on a free one-way flight. (This is just one of the benefits that new immigrants receive when they make aliyah.)
The day of my flight, I woke up at 6 a.m., knowing it was going to be one long day. I arrived at JFK Airport around 8 a.m. for a 1:15 p.m. flight. Walking through the doors of the international terminal, a big sign directed me to “Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah Flight Registration.” Standing in line between the men, women, and children of all ages who were waiting to drop their bags, I schmoozed with the people around me until a Nefesh B’Nefesh staff member presented me with an iPad of documents to sign. “This one is saying you are now an Israeli citizen, so you can get your Israeli ID,” he said casually. (He must have done at least a hundred of these already.) I signed it and couldn’t help but grin. I looked up at him, and he grinned back and chuckled, understanding the significance for me.