Articles by Bracha Shugarman

Dreams Come True: Journey to Bnei Brak: The Aliyah of the Friedman Family

bnei barak

In this time of terrorism, hatred, and incitement against Jewry worldwide, a sense of security is very much lacking in a majority of people’s lives. Where can one turn and receive reassurance? A corner of security however, can be found in the city of Bnei Brak. Known as “a city of Torah,” its great number of giants in Torah grant protection to the city’s inhabitants. As the Chazon Ish promised a few generations ago, “A missile won’t fall in Bnei Brak.”

Located on Israel’s central Mediterranean coastal plain, Bnei Brak has seen much change from its agricultural start in 1924. Over the years, an urban shape took form, and today, there is even a large Coca-Cola bottling factory at its entrance. Bnei Brak also contains a frum hospital, Memayanai Hayeshua.

Read More:Dreams Come True: Journey to Bnei Brak: The Aliyah of the Friedman Family

Dreams Come True : Journey to Netanya, The Aliyah of the Lehman Family


When I think of Netanya, my mind’s eye goes straight to its beautiful beach. The blue sky, warm sand, sparkling water, and, of course, the waves – crashing against the shore one after the other, each one in harmony with the next but coming in at a different angle. Recently, I had the privilege of spending Shabbos with a most incredible family in Netanya. Similar to the waves of the ocean, the Lehman family has found a home in the welcoming community of Netanya, yet remain distinct.

I meet Dina Lehman by the boardwalk on erev Shabbos. I assume she frequents the beach quite often, but she laughs and says, “People have to bring me out.” When the grandchildren visit, she enjoys the ocean’s beauty with them, but life is busy, and she doesn’t always have the time to relax by the beach. As we sit on a shaded bench next to the boardwalk, with paragliders cruising along the cliff line like giant kites, Dina shares her aliyah story.

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Read More:Dreams Come True : Journey to Netanya, The Aliyah of the Lehman Family

Dreams Come True : Journey to Bat Yam : The Aliyah of Chava Vodka

bat yam

Few people I’ve met were as enthusiastic as Chava Vodka about sharing her aliyah experience with Baltimore readers. Her response – that spreading the beauty of Eretz Yisrael is a tikun (rectification) for chet hameraglim (the sin of the spies) – revealed her deep love of Eretz Yisrael and passion for yishuv ha’Aretz. So, off I went to Bat Yam, where Chava resides with her family, to hear about her life and explore the seaside town.     

Chava, the daughter of Dr. Gershon (George) and Leah (Lila) Lowell, had a happy childhood with her two brothers in their home on Western Run Drive. When she was twelve, her family moved to Israel for two years. The move was prompted by Dr. Lowell’s promise to the American army. Rather than being drafted immediately for the Vietnam War, he would join of his own volition after he completed medical school. Dr. Lowell indeed joined the army as a doctor and moved his family to Silver Spring to be near his assigned hospital in Washington. Shortly afterwards, the family moved to Baltimore for schooling for the children.

Read More:Dreams Come True : Journey to Bat Yam : The Aliyah of Chava Vodka

Journey to Beitar : The Aliyah of Sara Lea Baruchov

“Family meeting,” father and mother announce one fine day. The kids amble in and take their places at the dining room table. The news is revealed, and jaws drop. Hearts start to flutter, and the shock is apparent. How would you feel if you were a sixteen-year-old Bais Yaakov teenager and are suddenly told about your family’s impending departure to a new faraway country?

Sara Lea Baruchov, nee Sondhelm, now a busy wife and mother, takes a trip down memory lane and excitedly shares her story with me in her home in Beitar. Sara Lea had just finished eleventh grade, when her family made aliyah in 1993. I ask her why her parents decided to pick up and move to Israel at that point in time.

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Dreams Come True : Journey to Efrat , The Aliyah of Nisan and Marietta Jaffee


Each stage in life brings new vistas, if your determination is as strong as your dreams. In the case of Baltimoreans Nisan and Marietta Jaffee, the Holy Land beckoned as Mr. Jaffee reached his retirement. The Jaffees not only agreed to share their aliyah journey with me but also met me one fine afternoon in Yerushalayim and gave me a ride through the countryside leading to their home in Efrat.

We drove through the famous tunnels and over the picturesque mountains of Harei Yehuda, blossoming with the first signs of spring. On the way, Mr. Jaffee stopped at an outlook in the neighboring yishuv, Neve Daniel, to show me the view. From this spot, the highest in Gush Etzion and, after Har Hermon, and one of the highest in the country, you can see much of Eretz Yisrael from the mountains down to the coastal plain and, on a clear day, even the towers of Tel Aviv.

Read More:Dreams Come True : Journey to Efrat , The Aliyah of Nisan and Marietta Jaffee

Dreams Come True : Journey to Rechovot : The Aliyah of Meir and Debbie Tulkoff


Many dare to dream; some turn their dreams into reality. The next stop in my aliyah exploration leads me out of Yerushalayim to spend a Shabbos with the Tulkoff family. When the Tulkoffs made aliyah in July 2001, they moved to the predominantly Israeli city of Rechovot, an interesting choice for an English-speaking family. My curiosity is piqued, and I hope to get a taste this Shabbos of what the Rechovot community has to offer and to learn from the aliyah experience of this Baltimore family.

The Tulkoffs welcome me to their lovely home with its delightful garden on a quiet side street. Private homes are common in the Tulkoffs’ neighborhood, alongside the ubiquitous Israeli apartment buildings. Many parks and tree-lined streets give the city a suburban feel. One of the first things I notice about Rechovot is that, unlike other communities I’ve visited, the religious people live alongside the secular ones. A wide variety of shuls are situated within the radius of a few blocks. I take advantage, and on Shabbos I daven in the dati leumi shul, go to the tisch in the huge Kretchnif shul, and stop in at both the yeshiva minyan and the Sefardi shul.

Read More:Dreams Come True : Journey to Rechovot : The Aliyah of Meir and Debbie Tulkoff