We help each other. Being helped inspires us to be helpful.

My husband and I made aliyah 241 days ago, but then 231 days ago he had to return to the United States to finish out his contract. Before he departed we found a place to live near the other Be’er Sheva based Neve-niks, and then for the ensuing 85 days I was kind of on my own.

My dear husband, a highly accomplished physician, missed out on buying a car, hiring a painter and handyman to make our place more livable, ordering phone and Internet service. He missed out on buying appliances, ordering a post office box, learning how to shop, learning how buy petrol and how to navigate around Be’er Sheva. He wasn’t there to share the worst and the best customer service experiences.

The rooftop of our former Chicago home, seemingly pointing off to our new journey.

Although I missed him terribly every one of those 85 days, I was never alone. My son and his family live in Efrat, an hour and 15 minute drive from Be’er Sheva and they were a great comfort and help to me, but equally important was the tremendous support I had from my fellow Neve Chabadniks! With kindness, smiles, and good humor, Neveniks were there with helping hands and friendship. Someone was there to help navigate a telephone menu at the electric company, someone showed me how to pay my arnona and water bills online in Hebrew. Another person took me to the big grocery store and guided me in deciphering product labels and school me on the various hechsherim.

For the first couple of months in Israel, more days than not I got yelled at by total strangers who didn’t like the way I parked or for my refusal to acknowledge their place in line, or demand a tip over the paid delivery fee. In most situations I embraced the attitude that things are different here, not better, not worse, just different and I simply don’t understand — yet. This attitude got me through a lot, but sometimes I felt truly overwhelmed dealing with the myriad of details and transactions without my husband. The Neve Chabad chevra – women, men, and yes, even the children were there whenever I needed them; they came with encouragement, love, moral support, and eagerness. One of the lovely things about Neve Chabadniks is the natural way they balance offering to help and respecting my need to first try to figure things out on my own. They were there if and when I wanted them, but they never intruded.

In the summer we traditionally learn Pirkei Avot (sayings of the Fathers). In the Mishnah (Avot, 1), Yehoshua Ben Perachia says, “Make for yourself a rav [great teacher], buy yourself a friend, and judge every person favorably.” We purchase friendship with friendship, acquire lovingkindness by doing for one another, sharing, and raising each other up.

Prior to making aliyah, I did an enormous amount of research. Unquestionably every minute of that research was a minute very well spent. The most valuable realization I garnered from my research was that to be a successful oleh you must first find a community into which you naturally belong, one with values you share, a community that will embrace you. In 241 days (and counting) I’ve had really good days and very challenging days, and you will too. Yet, I’ve never felt a moment’s regret in making aliyah because I came to a community where I belonged to even before I made the move here. Our Neve Chabad community is our family here in Israel. We’re on this journey together, so we help each other; in Neve Chabad you’re among friends — you won’t sojourn alone.

At Yisroel Shaffier’s Bar Mitzvah, with some of the Neve Chabad women.