Articles by Bracha Shugarman

Baltimore Singles in Yerushalayim


jerusalem

When singles make aliyah, they find themselves in new communities and work environments, and they embark upon the adventure of finding themselves in a foreign culture and language. In this last article of the singles series, we will explore how singles navigate shidduchim in Israel, some beautiful anecdotes as well as challenges they encounter and practical advice for any curious reader who is contemplating aliyah.

People have different attitudes when it comes to dating and the single stage of life. Some see it as a race: who gets to the finish line first. Others see it as a game: learning the rules and trying to enjoy the process as much as possible. And still others see it as a nuisance of a waiting process, inhibiting them from living the life they want to live. When making aliyah, the process continues, albeit on different turf.


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Dreams Come True : Baltimore Singles in Yerushalayim


jerusalem

Eretz Yisrael – the land of dreams, holiness, and beauty. For so many generations, a great multitude of men and women around the globe longed to lay their eyes upon this blessed land. How fortunate are we in our generation to grasp this dream, to walk on the soil of our Avos and Imahos, to taste its fruits, and to build homes of Torah within its borders. Every generation sacrifices in its own way to settle in Eretz Yisrael. It is true that in former times people had to undertake long voyages, and many who did arrive died of famine or plague. It is also valid, however, that in this generation, many who make aliyah sacrifice their familiar surroundings and, in many cases, living close to their families and  source of livelihood.

Singles who make aliyah alone experience life in Eretz Yisrael in various ways. In the first part of this series, we explored how single women from Baltimore find employment and community. In this article, the reader will get a glimpse of how singles find themselves socially, learn the language, and deal with being away from family. In the final article, we’ll explore how singles navigate shidduchim and some of the beautiful aspects as well as challenges faced here.


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Dreams Come True


kosel

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


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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


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  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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