Alana Michaels is a California Ramahnik who made aliyah in 2013. She wrote this about her experience:
The first question I always get when someone finds out that I’m moving across the world is: “What made you decide to do that?” To me the answer is simple, Israel is my home. It is the place I feel I belong and the place I feel safe. I graduated college in May and decided to make Aliyah a few months prior to graduation. It has been my dream to live here since 2007.
It was the winter of 2011/2012 (my fourth trip here) when I finally decided that I was going to make my dream come true. That winter I stayed in a friend’s apartment for a month while he was going to school in Tel Aviv. It was my first time being in Israel acting as a resident and not a tourist. I wasn’t waking up at 5am to go see a museum, I was waking up and walking across the street to the bakery to get a freshly baked bourekah. I wasn’t getting on a bus to go see the Dead Sea, but I was getting on the bus to go to the grocery store so I could make dinner. I wasn’t sleeping in a noisy hostel with Israeli children running through the halls at night, but I was lighting Channukah candles in our apartment and listening to our neighbors sing Maoz Tzur. I got to experience a glimpse of what it could be if I moved there. I got to see what the life I had been dreaming about could be, and so I started the process.
In 2007 I went on Camp Ramah’s Israel Seminar–a trip to Israel with all my best friends from camp–and met tons of other Ramahniks from all around the world. We traveled all around the country and I got to see all the places that I had heard of and even saw places I never knew existed. I floated in the Dead Sea and hiked for five days across the country until I reached the Mediterranean Sea. I attended peace talks and saw the border of Lebanon. I slept in a Bedouin tent and climbed Massadah at the crack of dawn. I still remember the first time I ever saw the Kotel in Jerusalem, and I will never forget experiencing Shabbat in a kibbutz. It was the first time in my life that I felt at home in a place I had never been before.
Upon landing back home, I was in the car with my parents telling them all about my amazing experiences. It was then that I first realized: one day I want to live there. My parents brushed off the idea thinking, she’s only 14, there is no way she knows what her future is going to bring. But as time went on, I traveled back to Israel every chance I could get. I went with my high school in 2009 and with Camp Ramah again in 2011. Each time I went back I fell more and more in love.
My best friend here in Israel worked at Camp Ramah in California this past summer with me. He and I met this past summer as he was the Amir farmer for our camp. We were best friends at camp and now I spend every Shabbat with him and his family. I befriended a lot of the mishlachat and have seen quite a few of them since landing here in Israel four weeks ago. Also Benji Davis, a past Rosh of mine when I was a Sollelim madricha as well as when I was a Machon madricha is here and works for Nefesh B’Nefesh. It’s a comfort knowing that in almost any city I travel to there is a michlachat member from one of the many years I worked at camp. I also just ran into my roommate from Seminar on the way to a bus stop yesterday! I hadn’t seen her since Seminar and now we are going to get back in touch! I got a job working at a high tech company in Ramat Gan working as a customer service representative. I am renting an apartment on Ben Yehuda in Tel Aviv. I spend most of my day at work and at night I hang out with the friends I made on my flight here or with people I met upon arriving here. It’s been a surreal experience–tomorrow will be exactly one month here!