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Making aliyah post October 7

For better or worse, my days are filled with the reality of living in Israel, not the intense highs and lows of this turbulent country.
Hannah Moshinsky
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Hannah in a blue Habonim Dror top with other people making aliyah at the airport

Moshinsky (centre) made aliyah with Hanoar HaOved Vehalomed, Habonim Dror’s sister movement in Israel, in March 2024 (Image: supplied).

Published: 4 July 2024

Last updated: 5 July 2024

I made aliyah in the middle of March 2024. That’s six months post October 7, but around eight years since I first thought about it. 

In contrast to a holiday, an exchange program, or acquiring a visa, getting citizenship and moving your life to another country takes more than a reaction. As with many other olim (new immigrants) I’ve met who've made aliyah since October, the war was yet another hurdle, an especially hard one, on our mental and practical roadmaps for relocating. 

A young woman I met from Germany moved because of years of built up antisemtism in Europe. A guy from Argentina arrived at the start of last year for a holiday and stayed because he felt at home. Two people I live with, one from New York and one from Manchester, made aliyah after feeling for a long time that they could not live as left-wing Zionists in their culture. And myself, from Melbourne, I came because I believe that there’s not just Jewish history in Israel, but a Jewish future, and I want to be part of it. 

“What do you think, nana? Do you wish I didn’t make aliyah?” I asked my nana on the phone a few days ago, while on a noisy street in Tel Aviv near my ulpan (Hebrew school). "It all balances out,” she said, about her worries and how far away I am, but also about me living here and how she too cares about this place. 

I do miss home a lot. Especially on Friday afternoons when I might usually help cook or set the table for Shabbat with my mum, go to my community’s Kabbalat service and then have dinner with my family. 

But then again, here, I experience an expanded sense of home: hearing the Shabbat siren; seeing pain on a stranger’s face and feeling that it’s likely similar to my own; the collective grief on Yom Hazikaron; the smell of a neighbour’s cooking as I walk up the stairwell to my apartment on a Friday afternoon.

I came because I believe that there’s not just Jewish history in Israel, but a Jewish future, and I want to be part of it. 

Yet beyond my nana’s clarifying answers, it’s been more difficult than anticipated to reflect on my last three months here. Perhaps mostly because I’ve come to realise that I’m no longer experiencing Israel in the ways I used to when I came on holiday or when I had peulot (programs) about Zionism and the Jewish future at my school or youth movement.

It feels as if society and reality here are moving and for the first time I’m swimming within it, not around it. I’ve been busy navigating the rental system in Hebrew; making sure I get the light rail to Petah Tikva not Bat Yam; figuring out dinner before the protest; and hanging out with my housemates, talking about everything but the war – like everyone else here in social settings. 

Three months on and I’ve realised what has consumed me hasn’t been the Iran missiles, or homesickness. It hasn’t been the moral confusion of aliyah while there are still hostages in Gaza and people suffering there catastrophically, or soldiers putting their life on the line, or the incredibly warm hospitality that most Israelis give olim. 

For better or worse, my days are filled with reality, the tachlis (getting down to business, or getting to the root of things) of living here, not the intense highs and lows of this turbulent country. Olim, like all Israelis, have no choice or time but for our life to go on – tachlis – for our survival here.

Ein Lanu Eretz Acheret’ (‘we don’t have another land’) has become a catchphrase hung from buildings around the country. This is the reality for most Israelis who generally do not have a second passport or an option but to live independently and safely in our own land, speaking our own language.

But this phrase actually originates from another part in a poem by Ehud Manor written after the Second Lebanon War: ‘...gam im admati boeret’ (‘…even if my land is burning’). This full line is widely used across the political spectrum in Israel today and reflects the steadfast mentality, even by those who do have a second passport, that you don’t just pick up and leave when life gets tough, but you stay –  especially when there’s war. 

Olim stayed too. They say when you make aliyah it’s not a decision you make once when you sign the final declaration form, but a choice you make everyday when you wake up as an oleh/olah. What I’ve seen in my last three months are the vast majority of olim and sabraim (Jews born in Israel) waking up everyday and continuing with life. And not in a grim, hurried way, but there's a notable feeling: a spark when meeting a friend for coffee, a warm glance to a stranger, and an overwhelming willingness to help one another despite a collective grief gripping everyone's core. 

The Jewish Agency for Israel has seen a dramatic increase in interest from Australians wanting to relocate to Israel in the months following October 7, and support services for olim have grown too.

Sadly I know and sense behind closed doors there are many people dealing with intense trauma, such as a friend of a friend having panic attacks because she knew over 150 people who were murdered. But I observe and feel that most who are able to make it out of the house, and live within the tachlis, are doing so with as much spirit and generosity as they are able to offer. 

More than ever I’m hearing in my circles that more people want to come, and it’s possible that more will than if October 7 and its ramifications never happened. The Jewish Agency for Israel has seen a dramatic increase in interest from Australians wanting to relocate to Israel in the months following October 7, and support services for olim have grown too.

While there is no right way to make aliyah, I do believe an important metric of its rates is not only how many of us are coming (or going), but how many people are staying, and continuing with life amongst the intense highs and lows of being an Israeli.  

And when I’m in one of those lows, not the tachlis, I may not be able to drive ten minutes to my nana, but I can call her… until the incessant honking of Tel Aviv and this crazy country knocks me back to reality.

About the author

Hannah Moshinsky

Hannah Moshinsky completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and Politics at the University of Melbourne and was a madricha (youth leader) in Habonim Dror and various community organisations in Melbourne. Hannah made aliyah at the start of 2024 with Hanoar HaOved Vehalomed (Habonim Dror’s sister movement in Israel).


  • Avatar of Deborah Horner

    Deborah Horner4 July at 02:51 pm

    Bravo, Hannah! You are inspiring.
    Kol haKavod!

  • Avatar of Corinne

    Corinne4 July at 07:26 am

    Hi Hannah, a lovely article depicting your first few months of Aliyah. I admire your forthrightness and courage.
    However, you forget to mention the flip side of this war. 2.5 million people ( in addition to our 9 million) who cannot go on with the Tachlis of day to day. Who don’t have a passport at all, or a house, or a street that hasn’t been turned to rubble, or a job, or income.
    How do you regard your Jewish values amidst this other horror right on Israels doorstep? Only half an hour away?
    I wonder if you new Olim could be the ones to reach out a hand across that border- and really make Israel a better place to be.

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