Thursday, January 31, 2008

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I Met Eliyahu Today...

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

This aliyah thing is becoming difficult. Seems we made an unexpected bad choice, to move into a somewhat American / Anglo area. Why was this a bad choice? In a word, Nefesh b'Nefesh.

I've written briefly about them in the past, and I highly endorse what they do, which is prep, plan, and heavily fund professional Jewish families making aliyah from the US and England (and Canada?) They've got an end-to-end support process, it's a thing of beauty and, thank G-d, highly successful so far.

So why is this a problem? Well, we didn't come via Nefesh b'Nefesh. And, if you're in an area that's seen a Nefesh b'Nefesh influx and you don't have their system working for you, well, you're just the odd man out.

I spent the day in the city's educational office. With all my young children. Traveling through freezing rain. Why? Because none of the local yeshivas will accept ANY of my children. Seems, as I mentioned above, we're odd. We didn't come on multiple pilot trips, we didn't get our children pre-tested, pre-registered, pre-screened, pre-heated, we didn't arrive with a Nefesh b'Nefesh coordinator. So we're odd, and they don't like odd.

I spent the day, while trying to corral my children up and down the hallways and in a conference room, listening to the city educational coordinator speak, shall we say strongly, to the yeshivas. The conversation went something like this..."why didn't you take them? If you get government funding, giving education is not optional, the law says you must take children!" "But, they're odd, and, they don't speak hebrew." "Of course not, they're new immigrants! You're required to take them, and get them language assistance!" "But, we won't." "Yes you will." "No we won't." Ad naseum.

I left the office, hungry tired children in tow, back into the freezing downpour. Enough, I called a taxi. We waited, and waited, rain falling, children whining. (Rainy day, taxis are busy.) Finally, the taxi pulled up.

We jumped in, gave the destination. Picking us up from the education center, the driver asked, "here about yeshiva? How's the children's education going?" I explained it wasn't going at all, he asked how long we've been here. Then he introduced himself, "You should have a bracha to have success in all your children's chinuch (education) needs. I'm Eliyahu."

After the whole day of banging my head against the wall, I actually paused and thought, I don't believe it. HaKodesh Baruch Hu has sent me Eliyahu HaNavi in the guise of a sephardi taxi driver with no kippah (but a business card with tefilas haderech - the traveling prayer - on it.)

I don't know if I met Eliyahu HaNavi today or not, but I know that a kind word and thought from a simple Jewish taxi driver was the difference between a terrible day and a good one, even in the freezing rain.

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1 comment:

  1. baruch Hashem reb akiva! this is a touching piece. this is the real israel. i'm tired of hearing non-sfardim criticizing sfardim. i am ashkenaz, (sfardi 500 years ago) and have been warmly embraced by a sfardi kehilah.
    your piece is special moreover because it connects to the real Source, HaKadosh Baruch Hu!!!!
    kol ha kavod


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