10 years ago today I arrived at Ben Gurion airport with 55 kilos of luggage and a badge, worn rather sheepishly saying "I've come home". My first steps in Israel as a new Oleh were taken in the company of 4 other Brits and a BOS rep in the direction of Misrad Haklita in the old terminal at the Airport and from then on to my relatives. Since 11/7/96, a lot has changed; only Misrad Haklita remains the same (I was there last week - trust me!)
Today I sat with a bunch of extremely talented, dedicated Israelis who, like me are shortly going to be packing up their families and homes and going to represent the Jewish Agency Aliyah Dept all over the world. I found it to be an extremely emotional closing of a circle; I'm going on Shlichut for the same reasons that I made Aliyah - because I believe that Israel is the correct place for Jews to be living in. My hope is that I will be able to bring a little bit of Israel to a lot of people; to encourage them, firstly to visit to strenghthen their Jewish identity and connection with Israel - and if they join the thousands of people who make Aliyah out of choice every year then all the better.
I hope that the decade of experience that I have had in becoming absorbed into Israeli society will stand me in good stead in advising, guiding and encouraging the people who I'll be meeting during the course of my shlichut, so that they can make Aliyah well prepared for dealing with the move. We live in a wonderful country but it certainly has more than its fair share of challenges and, even if there are certain stumbling blocks that can't be removed, I will be trying to make sure that "my" Olim will not be feeling their way blindly.
To my mind, the best advertisement for Aliyah, is not the variety of attractive posters, DVDs, websites and booklets that you'll find published by the Jewish Agency, AACI, Misrad Haklita and Nefesh B'Nefesh, but the wonderful people who have themselves made Aliyah - my wife and I are both good examples - if you're reading this then the chances are that so are you - I'd love to be able to add you to the circle of contacts who I can offer to Olim to help in their Klita both professionally and socially - drop me a line and let me know who yu are if you're happy to help.....