My Aliyah Story.
By: Earl Shugerman
Earl Shugerman is a regular contributor to Jewish newspapers around the world. This is his Aliyah story.
My first and favorite tour of Jerusalem was two months after my Aliyah in May of 2007. I was accompanied by my cousin Chaya (Heb. fem. name for life). She is Jewish Orthodox and by the age of thirty has six wonderful children. She is also an American Oleh (immigrant). Her family immigrated to Israel, two decades ago. Their intention was to be in the holiest city of the holiest nation on earth. My pride and joy is her three year old son – a “Sabra” (colloquial term for Israeli born) – Elchanan. He is a handsome, brilliant, and very precocious young man with dark hair, brown eyes and a very enchanting but somewhat sly smile. His mom refers to him as a walking “Chamsin” (turbulent hot storm), and his proud grandma jokes that he is Israel’s greatest threat to stability.
As an oleh, and now an Israeli citizen, I marvel at the fact that I can, at any time, visit many of the most famous sites from history. My favorite destination in Jerusalem is the Tower of David, where King David composed the 23rd psalm. When I finish my tour of the Tower of David, I dine at my beloved Middle-eastern restaurant where I enjoy traditional cuisine accompanied by a cold beer. It still amazes me that the distance between The Tower of David, my favorite restaurant and some other holy and historical sites is just a few hundred meters.
Chaya, now a “vatika” (veteran resident) takes great pride in giving guided tours of her beloved metropolis. During my last visit, we enjoyed touring the city on the famous Jerusalem double decker, open-air bus no. 99. Elchanan managed to get into everything and talk to everyone to the merriment of all, including our bus driver Haim, a resident of the city for forty years. On the 99 bus we navigate a route of both scenic and cultural interest. Mount Scopus boasts a visage encompassing the Old City, the Temple Mount and Bethlehem. As the Old City passes into the remote distance, the New City boasts iconographic sites. The Knesset housing Israel’s parliament. The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial remembers all those that were the victims of history’s most insidious crime. The Israel Museum, testimony to Jewish endurance and continuity of their presence in the Land of Canaan (between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea) is also the home of one of the most impressive and famous discoveries dating back more than two thousand years – The Dead Sea Scrolls which describe the Jewish way of life as well as part of the holy books written by a group called “The Esseim”. By the end of our bus tour many of the travelers felt like old friends.
The heart of Israel is the holy city of Jerusalem. For two thousand years Jews living in exile annually chant “Next year in Jerusalem”. Next year in Jerusalem is “now”. Our capital is the birth place of the three major monotheistic faiths and I am lucky to be living in the heart of it all.