Leaving Home – Again
But we had always considered Israel to be our home, and this served as a great advantage to us.
Oped by Sarah and Netanel Ansani | July 30, 2019
The moment we came to Israel we felt good. Each of us felt that this was the right place for us to be. Netanel made aliyah 11 years ago from Argentina, and Sarah came here five years ago from Denmark. Although we felt we were home, immigration to any new country has its difficulties, such as getting used to the language, culture, weather and bureaucracy. Putting down one’s roots in a new place is an exciting yet exhausting process.
But we had always considered Israel to be our home, and this served as a great advantage to us. Despite the difficulties, we had a positive attitude. We felt a sense of belonging and knew that this was the place where Jews should live. Despite the missiles, the knifings and the stones being thrown, we felt that Israel was the safest place in the world for us.
In keeping with this feeling – and as part of our desire to make our country a safer place – we each enlisted in the IDF and served as lone soldiers. The army is a very important bridge in getting to know Israeli culture and acclimatizing to it. For us, there was an added benefit: It was in the IDF that we met and fell in love. We married and set up home in Israel, and our first son was born here a year ago.
So, after the long road we had traveled, we finally felt acclimated. Then, after the birth of a sabra son, what could possibly convince us to leave, even if only temporarily? Why would we once again want to put ourselves through the same difficulties in order to settle in yet another new country, and once again face the same obstacles and challenges?
When we heard about a specialized emissary training program that also placed and accompanied its graduates into the field, and after we heard stories from several shluchim (emissaries) who had already returned to Israel, it was obvious to us both that shlichut (emissary work) was the right thing to do. After all the goodness that we each received in Israel individually and together, after the sense of security and belonging that we had acquired – and because we each know from personal experience about the challenges facing Diaspora Jewry – we felt that this was the right time to give back to our country and represent it abroad.
We are going on a mission as emissaries to tell the world about what really happens in Israel and to give information that they cannot find in their local media. We will talk with the local Jewish community and explain what really goes on here, and we will do our best to empower them to grow closer to Israel and help them reconnect to their Jewish roots. We will be there to give people just like us – just like who we were when we first lived there – an opportunity to connected to their Jewish heritage in a loving and respectful way. We will serve as a steady bridge between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.
We know it will not be easy to leave our home. We have already done so once, and we know we will face difficulties. Yet we are prepared to do so in order to strengthen our sisters and brothers in the Diaspora, as well as those in our new home in Israel.
The writers are the 500th family to be trained through the Ohr Torah Stone Straus-Amiel program – which has been training educational and rabbinical emissaries for 21 years – and its Maarava program that trains rabbinic couples heading to Sephardi communities around the world.