I am making aliyah. Finally. But it has been a long and strange journey to get me to this point. For more background on me and who I am and what my life has been like go to Lishmoah -- my earlier blog in which I detail much of my life from childhood. But my more recent travails are not detailed there. I have hesitated to publish the details of my recent life for a variety of reasons. But most of those reasons are no longer viable. So for the background the leads me to my current attempt at aliyah I am publishing here a synopsis of my life over the past two and one half years.
In January 2009 my beloved husband, Rabbi Barry Stern, slipped and fell on an icy patch. He struck his head on the ice/pavement and suffered a major subdural hematoma. He was brain dead upon arrival to the ER. We buried him six days later. Since he died my entire life changed.
Barry was a wonderful husband and provider -- as long as he was alive. He was disorganized and a procrastinator --two traits of his which translated into neglectfulness and irresponsibility upon his death. He let two life insurance policies lapse, neglected to change beneficiary designations on his retirement accounts after his divorce, and never wrote a will. There was only one life insurance policy in effect when he died, equal only to one year of his salary, naming me as the sole beneficiary.
After Barry died, his ex-wife successfully turned his four daughters against me with lies, and they in turn repeated those lies to his parents and siblings. Now, I not only lost my husband, but also the family I had come to love and care for, a family I had considered as my own. In addition to this, she successfully convinced the girls to take me to court. I was thus sued by all four of his daughters and by his ex wife for...EVERYTHING. The girls sued me for the life insurance and the ex sued me for the retirement accounts. They also petitioned for my removal as the administrator of the estate and a court appointed substitute administrator replaced me. I lost the life insurance to the girls, the ex was awarded 50% of the retirement accounts but she so manipulated the numbers and the math that the court in reality gave her 75% of the retirement funds. The substitute administrator proceeded to decimate the estate by selling the house for a pittance and to pocket the majority of the proceeds.
I could not even sue the establishment in front of which he fell, nor could I sue the town which owned the municipal property on which he was found. There was a civilian first responder to his fall, who claimed he stopped to investigate something that did not look right, but who "lawyered up" when the police went the next day to ask him more questions! I could not even bring him to court for questioning. All the laws on the books put me in the losing position for ALL avenues of seeking remuneration for my loss! (Not that ANY amount of money would replace my beloved Barry!)
I was forced out of my house and home, forced out of my community because I could no longer afford to live there, a community in which I had lived for eleven years and in which my husband and I had been extremely active members. I moved to a community where I knew not a soul. (B"H, that community was WONDERFUL for me!).
I have ONE daughter who is married and living in E"Y. I have a 2 1/2 year old grandson there, and now, IY"H, one on the way! I am making Aliyah this August. My daughter and her family have been struggling terribly due to lack of finances. You see, when they got married, in January 2008 (Barry died on their first anniversary!), we had agreed to help support them for as long as it took for them to finish their educations and get jobs. Barry's death and the subsequent loss of sustenance I experienced put that to rest -- I could no longer provide that kind of support. My daughter had been very close to Barry's girls and with what they have done to her mother (me) that closeness evaporated. She still thinks of them as her sisters and is very pained by what they have done. The loss of family which I sustained has, unfortunately, impacted her as well.
Because of their difficulties and because I cannot support two households they are going to come live with me in Israel. Is it an ideal situation? No. But it is the only solution at this point. For at least one year we will live in the same household and merge resources.
It should be noted that making aliyah has been a dream of mine for a long time. Many years ago, I went to Israel for a post high school adventure. I stayed for two years. I loved Israel and thought I would stay. But after two years, I was suddenly hit hard by homesickness. I had no family at all in Israel. So, I returned to the States. Little did I know that it would be 23 years before I went back to Israel. (My first trip back to Israel occurred in 2003 with Barry for a two week visit when his oldest daughter was there for her shana b'aretz.)
For reasons having to do with the theme of this blog being aliyah, I am not going to detail those 23 years of my life, nor even of the years prior to my meeting and marrying Barry. What I can write is that throughout our entire marriage, making aliyah was a constant thought in our collective minds. Both Barry and I wanted very much to go and live in Israel. Situational considerations, however, disallowed us from doing so. He had four daughters from a previous marriage and an ex who would never have tolerated his making aliyah and taking the girls with him. He would never have made aliyah without his children. Thus it was that our discussions of aliyah were limited to planning for an aliyah AFTER the kids were grown and out of the house. We had determined that we would make aliyah after his youngest had completed her "shana b'aretz". For us that meant in late 2010. Unfortunately that never happened. Barry died in 2009.
I did not then let go of the aliyah dream. But there was no idealism now propelling me toward aliyah. There was more a need to be with family who loved me. I had sustained so many losses. My ONLY daughter was married and living in Israel and I had a grandson there. My sister and her family lives there. I have nieces and nephews there and one niece is married and has a baby. My mechutanim live in Israel. I have a vast plethora of wonderful friends living in Israel. Even though I have friends here in the States, and my parents are here and my brother and his family are here -- the pull to be with the others, to be in Israel was far stronger for me. And so it was that in late 2010 I approached Nefesh B'Nefesh with my questions about the process of making aliyah.
I filled out the application. I signed many forms. I investigated and researched and asked questions and talked to many people and signed up for many email lists so I could learn as much as possible about all the issues and considerations of making aliyah. I acquired certified copies of all my documents, and apostilles for each one, I submitted my financial affidavit, my health affidavit, etc. I procured a new passport, and a visa. I have a huge binder FILLED with all these papers and lists and information I have acquired over the past year.
I planned my pilot trip. My next post will be about that. (no, not the next one, a past one in a different blog. Go to: http://lishmoah.blogspot.com/2011/05/pilot-trip.html)