Opinion | The privilege of aliyah

Max Goldman
Max Goldman (Courtesy of Max Goldman)

By Max Goldman

I’d be lying if I said I knew I always wanted to live in Israel. Like many Zionists, the idea often brewed in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to take
the plunge.

Well, two months exploring this beautiful country easily changed my mind.

Traveling the lush green mountains in the Golan Heights, strolling along the awe-inducing sights of Jerusalem’s Old City and mingling with people who are kind, passionate and warm was enough to convince me that Israel is exactly where I needed to be.

It made me ask myself: “How could I have access to this on a daily basis and not want to
live here?”

My two-month journey came after an intensive Jewish Agency pre-army preparatory program (mechina) called Kol Ami, where I learned a lot about the history of Israel, the society around me and had my Hebrew skills really kicked into overdrive. I already had a basic understanding from attending Jewish day school in Pikesville, but speaking Hebrew in the land where the language was born felt natural, so much so that I’d find myself often transitioning to Hebrew, even though the person I was speaking to knew English.

At mechina, I met many inspiring people, including my own roommate, who was from South Sudan. Hearing his struggles of how he got here, learning about the many who came before him on Operation Moses, crystallized for me that we are all on the same awesome journey of aliyah. Although for some, achieving this dream may have seemed impossible, I’m well aware of how lucky I am that I didn’t have to encounter such obstacles.

So, after finalizing my decision, I made aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh in June. In the next chapter of my journey I will enroll in Garin Tzabar, a program for Lone Soldiers in Israel.

There are many reasons why I chose to enroll in this meaningful, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the most important one is quite simple: I want to give back to a country that gave me so much.

There are also practical reasons, of course. My older brother is also a Lone Soldier and following in his footsteps is an honor and a privilege. Making aliyah without serving in the Israel Defense Forces was not an option for me. My mother and father always taught me the importance of doing good and staying true to our Jewish values. So, as a young person, with my whole life ahead of me, I consider it a duty that I’m proud to fulfill as someone who is now part of the state of Israel.

The truth is, before I moved here, I only visited Israel twice. It’s fascinating to me that it really didn’t take much to make me understand that this is where I want to live my life. Although I know it will not always be as easy as making the decision to move here was, I come fully prepared for whatever awaits me in making this beautiful country of ours
my home.

Max Goldman made aliyah from Pikesville in June. Since 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA, has facilitated the Aliyah of more than 65,000 North Americans to Israel.

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