Joshua I. Shuman is a Wisconsin Ramahnik who made aliyah in 1989. He wrote to Ramah about his experience and decision to do so.
I made aliyah in December of 1989. Prior to aliyah, I spent one year at the Hebrew University on the One Year Program (1984-85), then as a madrich for USY Summer Pilgrimage (1985), as a madrich for Ulpan Ramah Plus (1987), Kibbutz Hannaton volunteer (1987), and finally at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies (1987-88). At the time of Aliyah, I had no family in Israel. I am probably the only American Jew I know that had absolutely no one from anywhere in his family living in Israel.
I met the woman who would become my wife at Ramah in Wisconsin, so I owe a great deal to those who decided to send Ms. Bat-Zion Moshe, a young Yemenite woman who had never been out of the country, to Conover, WI in 1989.
Today, my wife and I remain connected to Conservative/Masorti institutions by being on the ‘mailing lists’ of Degel Yehuda Egalitarian Sephardic minyan and Ma’ayanot Egalitarian minyan (both of Jerusalem). We sent our children to the Ramah Jerusalem Day Camp at the Goldstein Youth Village when they were younger.
I moved to Israel to become part of the grand/modern Jewish experiment. I have said that as long as Israel exists, a Jewish state, one that my ‘foreparents’ have been crying out for for many generations, it is my responsibility to be a part of this experiment. At the very least, I can say that I tried. I have been here for the past 18 or so years! I also wanted to explore a more religious Jewish experience, which living in Israel has enabled me to do.
At Pardes, I went through the experience of poetry and the Jewish religious expression, which cemented the decision to make my life in Israel. I have not looked back since.
I have always thought that coming to Israel is one of the greatest ways to discover Israel, myself, and how to make great friends.