Shalom Life | April 26, 2015

From France to Israel: “I Feel That I Have Come Home”

Israelis on Twitter Have Helped Make the Transition a Smooth One

By: Jonathan Josephs

Published: July 3rd, 2012 in News » World

From France to Israel: “I Feel That I Have Come Home”

My name is Jonathan Josephs, and I’m a 26-year-old British/French jurist and linguist.

Today, I feel honoured to be celebrating my first week as an Israeli citizen. I’m proud to say that I made Aliyah just one week ago, which would have been impossible without the fantastic work of The Jewish Agency.

The most common reaction since my arrival here usually involves one affirmation, one rhetorical question, followed by a more serious interrogatory: “Mazal tov!” “Are you crazy?” and then, “So, tell me, why did you make Aliyah?” I usually answer that last question by saying that I made Aliyah not because of my Zionist ideals—although they are most certainly intact—and not because of the closeness I feel when in Israel. I just hit them with the truth: “Because of the beautiful Israeli women, of course!”



On a more serious note, it is hard to explain the reasons behind my Aliyah in purely logical and coherent terms. Of course, my love for the land and the people of Israel played an important role in my life-changing decision. But what else? Was it because of the anti-Semitism I experienced in France? Perhaps. Was it because I wanted to quit my job in London and was seeking out a fresh start? Perhaps. Truth be told, I didn’t know exactly why I was seeking to make Aliyah. But I soon came to understand, and with total clarity, why I did so just three days into my life as an Israeli citizen.



I was walking down Basel Street in Tel Aviv. An old man, proudly sporting a hat fashionable to people his age, was slowly making his way along the pavement. It was extremely hot, and the man was obviously struggling.
 He was slowing down, looked a bit dazed, and was sweating profusely. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a hairdresser emerged from his shop.
“Gever, gever,” he shouted to the old man. The man didn’t respond — he was in his own world, still battling his way down the road. The hairdresser left his shop and ran towards the old man. Now, my Hebrew isn’t perfect, alas, but it didn’t need to be for what I then saw. The hairdresser gently took the old man by the arm, walked him into his shop, sat him down in a chair, and offered him a bottle of water. It is this spirit of family—one large, extended, and undoubtedly meshuggeneh family—which succeeded in removing any lingering doubts I might have had about Aliyah being the right path—indeed, the only path—for me. And the beautiful Israeli women, of course.

It goes without saying that Israel is by no means a perfect place (what is it about you guys shouting to each other on the phone, and the incessant honking of car horns in the streets?). And yes, I still may look at Israel with a youthful enthusiasm that may well dwindle when I have to wait in the heat in the lobby of the Ministry of Education while waiting for my academic degrees to be recognized by the state.

But for the short time I have been in Israel, I have not stopped smiling. I even smile when I see people shouting at each other in the street.
My feeling is that this sense of community—of looking out for one another—simply does not exist elsewhere in the world. When I went to register for my kupat holim (healthcare provider) and they understood that I had just made Aliyah, I suddenly had ten people surrounding me, congratulating me, giving me their numbers, and inviting me round for Shabbat dinner. I’m now booked up for the next 18 Shabbatot. I even had someone asking me to meet their daughter.

In the week since I’ve been here, I’ve received my identity card, registered in a kupat holim, opened a bank account, found a job, and just yesterday signed a lease for an apartment. The weeks leading to my Aliyah were an emotional ride. Saying goodbye to your family is never easy, even though they have promised to visit regularly. Just as well, then, that I have a new family here: the Israeli people. They have been, without exception, supportive, caring, and utterly inspirational in every respect.

Like many Jews growing up in the Diaspora, I attended many Zionist summer camps. I became involved in the movement, and served as a madrich (counselor). At the age of 18, upon my graduation from high school, I decided to go and experience Israel for a year on a Masa Israel program. This was my first time visiting Israel. The Masa program must have worked, because I soon caught the Israel bug. I wanted more. While at university in England, the skills I learned in the Masa program enabled me to be elected as the president of the Jewish society, and also to become involved in student politics, where I was an advocate for Israel in a university that was a hotbed of anti-Israel activity. After university, I was honoured to become a member of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism, where I specialize in fighting against online anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial from a legal perspective. I was honoured to give talks in the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem, and in the French Ministry of Foreign and European affairs in Paris. Jewish leadership is something I very much enjoy, and I want to continue playing an active part in here in Israel.

Former New York State Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Has Longstanding Jewish Ties Former New York State Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Has Longstanding Jewish Ties TrendingIsrael: One Of The Happiest Countries On Earth Israel: One Of The Happiest Countries On Earth TrendingNetanyahu Condemns Ultra Orthodox Jewish Attackers of IDF Officer Netanyahu Condemns Ultra Orthodox Jewish Attackers of IDF Officer Trending
 

Yes, There's A Grateful Dead Album Entirely in Hebrew

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Yes, There's A Grateful Dead Album Entirely in Hebrew

Released by Sagol 59 and Ami Yaris, "The Promised Land" features songs from the revered jam band beautifully translated into Hebrew

Read More

Ban Ki-Moon Eats Shakshuka On Israel Independence Day

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Ban Ki-Moon Eats Shakshuka On Israel Independence Day

An exploration into Israeli food, and maybe the first step towards peace, Ban Ki-Moon tries shakshuka for the first time

Read More

WATCH: Tel Aviv Zookeeper Captures Awesome Footage of Animals Drinking

April 24, 2015 | By Maya Yarowsky, NoCamels
WATCH: Tel Aviv Zookeeper Captures Awesome Footage of Animals Drinking

Elad Hershkowitz captured the unique footage by placing a GoPro camera at the bottom of animals' water troughs to get a closer look at how giraffes, lions, rhinos and lemurs relieve their parched pallets

Read More

First Nations Actors Storm Off the Set of Adam Sandler's Western Spoof

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
First Nations Actors Storm Off the Set of Adam Sandler's Western Spoof

Despite concerns raised by actors on the set, and even following a walkout by cast, Netflix and Sandler stand by the 'The Ridiculous Six'

Read More

Poland Wants Mattel To Recall 'Apples To Apples' Game For Labelling Them As Nazis

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Poland Wants Mattel To Recall 'Apples To Apples' Game For Labelling Them As Nazis

A card which refers to their country as "Nazi Poland" during the second World War has been deemed offensive and demeaning to Poland

Read More

Former New York State Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Has Longstanding Jewish Ties

April 24, 2015 | By Jacob Kamaras, JNS.org
Former New York State Governor and Possible Presidential Candidate Has Longstanding Jewish Ties

George Pataki has a strong history with Jewish voters for a Republican

Read More

Israel: One Of The Happiest Countries On Earth

April 24, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Israel: One Of The Happiest Countries On Earth

Israel takes the 11th spot on the UN's annual happiness report, coming out on top of countries like the U.S. and U.K.

Read More

Netanyahu Condemns Ultra Orthodox Jewish Attackers of IDF Officer

April 24, 2015 | By Kobi Nachshoni
Netanyahu Condemns Ultra Orthodox Jewish Attackers of IDF Officer

'They are lawbreakers. Service in the IDF is a source of pride,' the Israeli PM stated

Read More

More Headlines