The Best Olim

I’ve finally returned from miluim and I couldn’t be happier.

When I left the office about a month ago I was concerned. Not scared, but concerned. After all, Ariel’s new olim have begun arriving and all of a sudden, at a very early stage of their aliyah, I can’t be around to give them any assistance. Sure – there are phone calls here and there – but there’s alot that can’t be done long distance.

And what about the brand-new olim that arrived? Two families arrived a matter of days before I was off to serve, and a single guy came after my departure – what would they do? How would they manage?

True- olim have always handled things on their own in the past. Yes- usually things were rather sloppy and not everything got taken care of, but olim survived before the innovation of Ariel’s Community Aliyah Program… And yet – it didn’t seem fair – leaving our olim hanging without the support net that we strive to provide them with.

So – we held a meeting with some of our volunteers. It was the “how are we going to pull this one off” meeting. It was no surprise – all of the positions were manned and every responsibilty was accounted for. Still – how would things turn out…?

While on miluim I witnessed (from afar) things coming together. From the arrival of a new oleh to the assistance necessary for the “old timer” olim (=those here for maybe a month or so), from opening bank accounts to Shabbat meal invitations, from starting new schools to getting into ulpan- our recent olim were all making it happen.

It didn’t happen by accident. Some very good, caring and capable people stepped up to the plate to get the job done. In general, when thanking our volunteers I avoid “mentioning names” so as not to seemingly overlook someone by not mentioning them. In this case, however, I will request forgiveness for mentioning only three of the outstanding volunteers. I mention them due to the significance of their assistance and the degree of their investment, without which I don’t know how things would have worked out:

Jenny – Kol HaKavod!!! Jenny put her secretarial skills and never-ending energy to work by taking the position of “central comand”. Hours on the phone, tying up loose ends, constant initiative and endless care and concern for the olim are only a small taste of what it took for her to get the job done. And indeed, the job got done – without a flaw.

Yisrael (aka Eric)- I was a bit surprised when Yisrael showed up at our volunteer meeting before my departure. After having made aliyah less than two months earlier, I certainly didn’t expect him to take an active role. By the end of the meeting he had essentially volunteered for almost all that had to be done. He was the one to greet our newest oleh when I was away, take him from place to place, show him the ropes and basically show him what it means to come Home.

Yocheved – Some people only know how to give. Yocheved wasn’t at the volunteer meeting – because she wasn’t invited (she wasn’t invited because she herself was one of the new olim that hadn’t even arrived yet!). Both when I stopped by on my leave from the army and now that I’ve returned from miluim I’ve witnessed only a few of the things that she does to help the olim: doing their wash (by hand!), running all over town to get olim things that they need and shlepping things around for a whole day to help an oleh with their move to her new place. One thing’s for sure- she’s done alot more than I have any idea about.

So – to each of the volunteers – those mentioned and those not mentioned – THANK YOU. Your true reward is an eternal one. 

I think the bottom line is that I’m both pleased and impressed. Pleased – because our olim continue to get into life in Israel – one step at a time. Impressed – because they and the volunteers who assist them are doing such an EXCELLENT job.

Thank you all for being the best.


1 Response to “The Best Olim”

  1. 1 Elisheva Levy December 15, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I’ve had the privilege to befriend Yocheved since she made Aliya. And I more than appreciate her wisdom and righteousness – she is a true friend and mentor and I wish her the best of happiness and success in her new and ancient home – Eretz Yisrael.

    Love & Light,
    Elisheva Levy

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