Imagine the following scenes throughout Shmueli’s life in the thriving religious community of Goshen, Indiana, and how he never fulfilled his dream to make aliyah and live in the Holy Land.
Scene 1 : Childhood Dreams
Little Shmeuli is 7 years old and just finished examining a big picture book of Israel and it’s holy sites.
Shmueli: Mommy, I want to move to Israel. It looks really fun there! Can we move mommy?
Mommy: No, sorry sweetie. Abba has a good job here in Goshen, and anyway the Israeli kids are really too rough. You might get hurt. Maybe someday, but not now.
Scene 2 : The Teenage Zionist
Years later, Shmueli is now 16 and just finished viewing the Goshen Yeshiva senior class trip pictures of Israel on Facebook.
Shmueli: Abba, looking at all those picture of Israel really makes we want to go there. The Cohens made aliyah, why don’t we?
Abba: It’s not a good idea to disrupt your yeshiva learning, Shmueli. Learning in Israel is a lot different and it might be hard on you. And anyway, Mashiach will come some day soon and we will all go there!
Scene 3 : Passion Rekindled
Shmueli is now 21 and in his third year of Goshen Yeshiva Beit Medrash. After learning the halachot of Sheviit he feels the desire to move to Israel and consults with his Rebbi.
Shmueli: Learning the halachot of sheviit has stirred up my feelings to make aliyah, and get land of my own so I can fulfill those mitzvot. What do you think?
Rebbi: Now is not a good time. You’re still young, and anyway, your father has got college plans for you starting next year, right? You have your whole life to make aliyah – don’t get all worked up about it now. Think of your future.
Scene 4 : The Good Parent
Shmueli is now 28 years old, married with four kids and a degree in programming. After the Shabbat drasha about the meraglim, Shmueli approaches Rabbi Greenberg with a nagging question.
Shmueli: Rabbi, I have been thinking about making aliyah lately. The kids are still young, my wife is interested and I can support the family as a programmer. I think it would work out fine! What do you think?
Rabbi Greenberg: Bad idea. The government is filled with wicked people, Israeli children will be hard on your kids, your standard of living won’t be nearly the same. Stay here. You have a nice home, cars, a night seder – what more could you ask for? Wait a few more years – until your kids are older.
Scene 5 : Planning for the Future
At age 35 Shmueli has a couple more kids and has advanced in his programming. His oldest is 14 years old and is doing well in school. After looking at another Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight arrival on Arutz Sheva he calls the Rosh Yeshiva of Goshen Yeshiva to speak about making aliyah.
Shmueli: …we would like to make aliyah. We can support ourselves financially, my kids are doing well in school. I would like to pursue the idea further. What does the Rosh Yeshiva think?
Rosh Yeshiva: Shmueli, I have know you a long time and have seen you grow to be quite a talmid chacham and a baal hesid. But, you have to know that your son my not “find himself” in Israel. You may find him doing “other things” – things that you don’t want to think about. You have to think about your kids, and what is best for them. Goshen is good for you and you are good for Goshen. You have plenty of time to make aliyah.
Scene 6 : Not too Late
Ten years later, two kids are married and his other children are in school, some are doing poorly and some are doing well. After finding that an old friend on Facebook has moved to Israel, Shmueli turns to Yaakov, his chavruta of 13 years for his opinion.
Shmueli: I just got an email from an old friend who made aliyah. He says ‘It’s the best thing he has done and his family loves it there.’ !
Yaakov: Man, I would put that on the back burner if I were you. A lot of kids go off the derech. It’s a big problem. Maybe you should move when all your kids are grown and on their own.
Scene 7 : The Golden Years
At age 61 Shmeuli is making plans for retirement with his friend and accountant, Hillel Ash.
Shmueli: I think the time has come for me to retire and make aliyah, you are my accountant – what do you think?
Hillel: You have a lot of people relying upon your support, both financial and personal. You’ve got grandchildren who love to come visit you. How can you leave all this behind? Work for another eight to ten years and then go. Stick around, your needed here in Goshen!
Scene 8 : The End
Shmueli dies at age 79 leaving behind his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. After the hespedim, Shmueli’s body and his closest family members board the next El Al flight to Israel for his burial place on Har HaZiytim. As the plane taxis to the runway Shmueli’s wife converses with their oldest son.
Wife: You know, your father always wanted to live in Israel….
This little story was originally published in a blog I wrote when we first arrived in Israel and it seemed to have touched many lives.
One day I received a call from a man who read the story, shared it with his wife and in the end made aliyah. He thanked me with profuse tears in his voice. Seems Shmeuli’s story was his story – but with a better ending. He and his wife made aliyah.