Recently we asked olim to share stories of their successful aliyah to exemplify our “We did it. So can you!” tagline and give encouragement to future olim. Within hours we received from the uber go-getter Ruti Eastman the following amazing aliyah story.
Hi, New and Future Israelis!
Avi and I want to share our aliyah story, which just may encourage you. What is encouraging about the Eastman aliyah story? Well, we broke all the rules. We came with very little money, two teenangels, no Hebrew, no jobs. We arrived in Israel with no family to support us and at the advanced ages of 49 and 58.
We were not without funds entirely. We had a military pension and the proceeds (after debt settlement) of the sale of our house in the States. That meant I could feel like a kallah as we bought my first new refrigerator, stove and washer and dryer of my life. Sweet times!
We had spent the 16 years building up to our aliyah preparing our kids, so that by the time we finally made aliyah, they thought it was their idea. (Of course, they were disappointed that Israel didn’t look like Tatooine… so we clearly didn’t prepare them perfectly.) Our sons took about a year to adapt to the new culture; and another two sons joined us within a few years. They all learned their Hebrew in the street, playing American football, and in the IDF.
The language was and continues to be our biggest challenge. So if you have the language, keep increasing your skills any way you can. If you don’t have it, try your best to attain it. But know that you can get by without it, as long as you stay humble enough to ask for help, expect occasional frustration meltdowns, and know that your kids or grand-kids will be fluent — and that that’s why you made aliyah anyway, right? For your future. And that may well have little to do with you in your lifetime. It will surely have to do with your progeny or, if you haven’t any kids, with the lives you touch with the wisdom God gave you and no one else. With or without Hebrew, add light to the people around you. God allowed you to make aliyah because He wants you to do something here for Him and His people that you simply couldn’t do anymore in your country of origin.
The most exciting part of our aliyah is that we ended up reinventing ourselves. My husband became a country-renowned American football coach. All of my sons played American football, and some even played internationally — something they were unlikely to have done as religious Jewish American boys. All of them served their country by protecting Jewish people (and non-Jewish Israelis) in the Holy Land, instead of going off to far off countries to fight whatever wars American troops were embroiled in.
My husband has been teaching guitar, and I have taught harmonica. I did find a job online at which I worked for several years as we adjusted to life in Israel. But when I retired from that, I wrote and published four books (so far), something I never would have done in the States. My sons and the beautiful and fine women they met and married here have started businesses or are working in high-tech or are learning the skills to be professionals here in Israel. They are bringing up little sabras whose Hebrew and English skills make their grandmother very proud.
Ten years before we came, we had the misfortune to speak with an aliyah representative who said, “If you don’t have $10,000 cash, don’t even try to make aliyah. ” We believed him… so we gave up — until we couldn’t bear not being Israelis anymore, and took the chance. What would have happened if we had not listened to him back then? Perhaps Hebrew wouldn’t have been as much of a problem. I don’t know. But I am so very grateful that God didn’t give up on us, and we finally made aliyah. This has been the richest 14 years of my life. May we continue to grow as Israelis in our Holy Land, adding the special light He entrusted to each of us. Looking forward to having you join us!