When I made aliyah, I did so for many reasons including Zionism, anti-Semitism, finding a Jewish partner, the beach, the weather, and to travel. You can learn more about my decision here.
One reason I only share with some people, but am now sharing with you, is that I made aliyah to escape abuse.
I grew up with many abusive relatives. If there’s a type of abuse you can think of, I experienced it. I even had relatives who opposed or interfered with my involvement in the Jewish community. Some even tried to stop me from going to synagogue- or made my experience there miserable. Add on top of that that I was an only child and you might begin to imagine just how draining, isolating, and traumatizing this was.
The consequences are innumerable – PTSD, eating issues, body image issues, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, loneliness, unhealthy drinking habits, etc.
Fortunately, through very hard work (and tens of thousands of dollars of therapy), I’ve managed to overcome many – but certainly not all – of these issues.
Meanwhile, even as I continued to make progress, I felt suffocated in the U.S. I was feeling stalked and harassed by some relatives and I felt like I couldn’t make any more progress because that place was packed full of memories of the trauma I endured.
Over the past year, I created more space for myself. I distanced myself from toxic people and reconnected to the things I love and connected to new things that filled my life with joy. I started writing multilingual poetry. I began to sing- and discovered I have a really good voice when it’s not cluttered with other people’s hate. I started doing Israeli dancing again for the first time in 10 years. I returned to my synagogue. I learned new languages and dusted off some I hadn’t spoken in a while. In short, I tended to my ruach, my spirit, and incidentally another name of G-d. Because to nourish your soul is, in itself, godly.
In times of trouble, both as a child and as an adult, I’ve turned to the Jewish community for support and love, even when I felt it lacking from the people around me. The picture for this blog is of me 13 years ago at a NFTY event- the Reform youth group that gave me a space to explore Judaism on my own terms and make some pretty great friends 🙂 . I find something personally satisfying and rewarding about connecting to God and I love our cherished traditions and culture. We are truly one of a kind. And there’s another reason I love Judaism. When I felt alone and like I didn’t really have much of a family, I knew I had another family: Am Yisrael, The Jewish People.
Nearly everyone who makes aliyah has both “push” and “pull” reasons for why they came. Some of the “push” reasons could be anti-Semitism, persecution, economic strife, and so many more. Today, I’d like to add one to the list: abuse. Escaping abuse. Having talked to many olim here, I know I am not the only one, so I’m raising my voice for all of us. It’s time to remove the stigma.
Israel was built to be a safe haven for all Jews. The reason you come here doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is a place for you to call home. For you to escape pogroms. For you to find a better job. For you to live freely as a Jew. And for you to escape toxic people and find a place to heal.
I came to Israel alone. I’m just getting to know my family 🙂