Articles by Bracha Shugarman

Dreams Come True


Life is a journey. Each person treads his or her own path, and choices must be made along the way. Will I embark on a quest for meaning? In what direction should I climb? What route should I take? For many, their individual path leads them to marry early and raise families, while others blaze a different trail. Life is not about waiting for events to unfold; rather, one must take action and strive to fulfill one’s dreams regardless of life circumstances. Every age and every stage possesses a treasure.

Why more single women don’t make aliyah was a question I pondered prior to my own move to Eretz Yisrael two years ago. It is easy to continue one’s life in the groove, to adhere to an accustomed routine of work, family, single social circles, and events. Familiarity plays a big role in many people’s lives. And so I procrastinated and continued my life in my beautiful hometown of Baltimore, waiting for the right time to pick up my feet and settle in Eretz Yisrael, the land of my dreams.

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My Journey to Bat Ayin


What do you get when you mix together chasidut, a desire to work the holy soil of Eretz Yisrael, ahavas Yisrael, and creativity? The answer is Bat Ayin! A friend of mine, who often goes to this small hilltop yishuv in Gush Etzion for Shabbos, had been inviting me to join her for a while. I had many reasons for turning her down time after time. But when I heard that Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin was looking for a madricha for their summer program, I figured it didn’t hurt to apply and check it out – and now that I’m there, the joke is on me!

As I alighted from the bus at the traffic circle on Bat Ayin’s main road and made my way down the hill, a beautiful mountain panorama lay before me, and I felt the clear air entering my lungs. I noticed the variety of homes as I walked. Many families live in caravans (trailers) while others occupy houses of all sizes and types. There are small matchbox-style homes that the owners built themselves and others that are large and multi-level. Some houses are faced with beautiful stone, while others are built from colorfully-painted cement or wood, log-cabin style. Each home is surrounded with a bit of land, and many have well-kept gardens. Each home is unique, attesting to the individuality of the people residing inside.

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Dreams Come True , Journey to Bat Ayin , The Aliyah of the Taylor Family

bat yam

Does anyone remember the missionary couple that moved to Strathmore Avenue in the summer of 2000? Ever wonder what happened to them? I discovered the Taylor family living on a hilltop in Gush Etzion, in the yishuv of Bat Ayin. It was in this small settlement inhabited by simple people who contain wellsprings of greatness that Pinchas and Penina, formerly missionaries and now observant Jews, found a place to call home.

Pinchas and Penina graciously agree to share their fascinating personal story in order to inspire and strengthen others. They welcome me warmly, and I ask them how their story begins. Although most stories have a beginning, they respond, their own is elusive for the simple reason that their search for truth is beyond the scope of words and time.

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Dreams Come True, Journey to Nof Tzion: The Aliyah of the Eilberg Family


  I am off to meet Pnina Eilberg, resident of Nof Tzion, a neighborhood of just 85 families living on two streets. It came as a surprise to me to learn that such a place exists within the boundaries of Yerushalayim. Located in the Kidron Valley above Ir David, it is surrounded by Arab villages. Its name, though, meaning Zion View, is not surprising. As Pnina graciously welcomes me into her apartment, I take in the gorgeous panorama of Har Habayit and Har Hazeitim from her giant living room window. And as Pnina explains the background of her family’s aliyah journey and talks about life in this tiny enclave, I begin to appreciate the importance of the neighborhood and the strength of its residents.

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Dreams Come True, Journey to Tzfat: The Aliyah of the Jacobs Family


As the bus winds its way north through green valleys and steep mountain roads, the beauty of the Galil, Galilee, unfolds before my eyes. Onward we climb towards mystical Tzfat, the highest city in all of Eretz Yisrael and one of the four “holy cities” of the Land. Alighting at the central bus station, I am struck by the beauty of Tzfat and behold the stunningly lush landscape of its surroundings. Only a short distance away are the soothing blue waters of the Kinneret, visible from my lookout, as well as the camel-hump form of the mountain upon which Meron lies, just across the wadi (valley) from Tzfat. No wonder tourists are enraptured! How pleasant it is to mill about the quiet streets this slow-paced city that has no traffic lights. Many Israelis, including chashuve Torah personalities, vacation in Tzfat, whose climate, because of its altitude, is mild in the summer, albeit cold and snowy in the winter.

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Dreams Come True : Journey to Rechavia : The Aliyah of the Even-Israel Family


When I think of Rechavia, my mind conjures up an upscale neighborhood in the heart of Yerushalayim with tree-lined streets, green parks, and beautiful, often palatial, buildings surrounded by neat gardens. Although but a few minutes walk to shops, hotels, and restaurants on Keren Kayemet Street, Rechavia is almost purely residential, with a mixture of both secular and religious Israelis as well as chutznikim (immigrants) interspersed throughout the neighborhood. Meni and Liza Even-Israel and their four children are one of the many families living in Rechavia, and Liza graciously agrees to share her story of how they landed there.

Liza Ferszt Even-Israel was born and raised in Los Angeles until age eleven, when her parents decided to move to Israel. Intending to make their move open ended, they did not sell their house or their business immediately. A few years later that they actually made aliyah. Since they had come in 1986, before the first intifada, Liza has happy memories of life in Israel.

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