Editor’s Note: Jordana and Josh Bernstein made aliyah on Sept. 7. Jordana is the granddaughter of founding TJP publishers, the late Rene and Jimmy Wisch.
By Jordana Bernstein
I just finished a Zoom meeting with the administration and families from Shaya’s school, Ayanot, which is an agricultural school located in a youth village in Rehovot, Israel. Shaya is my youngest child and is in 11th grade. She came to Israel for high school beginning in 10th grade through Naale Elite Academy and preceded our move to Israel. Shaya and her classmates board at their school and come from all over the world, including Germany, Thailand, Ireland, Switzerland, America, Canada, France, Cypress, Ethiopia and the United Kingdom. Since Israel was terrorized by Hamas on Oct. 7 and declared war, most of her friends have returned home and they have had a very modified school schedule on Zoom. Shaya’s home, however, is now in Modiin, Israel, where we moved a little over a month ago.
The topic of the meeting was getting the students off Zoom and back onto the school campus as soon as possible. Understandably, the parents are very worried, actually terrified, about sending their children back to Israel so soon, considering the current state of Israel and the world. The scary level of anti-Zionism and antisemitism flooding every kind of media outlet right now and the fact that the monstrous and unpredictable Hamas is practically in our backyard here in Israel reinforces everyone’s fear. As the meeting was concluding, it did not sound like anyone was going to be rushing to send their children back to Israel so quickly. But our home is in Israel now, Shaya’s home is in Israel now and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and relief that this wasn’t a decision I had to make.
These days, while I have been experiencing every kind of thought and emotion and sometimes the tears just sneak up on me and begin to flow, the feeling that permeates is gratitude. I am grateful that we moved to Israel when we did. I am grateful that all of our things arrived in Israel and were delivered to our new home just days before the war started. I am grateful that we are living in a city that feels like a haven of safety in Israel. I am grateful that we are here for our girls. Our oldest daughter, Rosie, has been staying with us since her husband, Avi, was called up to serve in the war. And Shaya has been staying with us as well, as her school continues to teach virtually. I am grateful for FaceTime calls that help me stay in touch with my family. It brings me great comfort to see their faces and I know it brings them comfort to see mine. I am grateful that we live in a country that uses its resources to protect us and although thousands and thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza, 90% of them have been intercepted by the Iron Dome. I am grateful for the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers that are risking their lives to keep us all safe in and out of Israel. I am grateful that I live in a Jewish state where no matter where I go I am greeted with phrases like “Yom tov,” “Shavua tov” and “Shabbat Shalom.” And, right now, during this war, throughout Shabbat, when Shabbat-observant Jews can’t watch TV, there is a silent channel that can be kept on during Shabbat and will come on only if there is important safety information to report. I am grateful for beautiful views and walking paths and for living in our homeland, where I feel so connected to our heritage and the land that our Jewish ancestors have inhabited for thousands of years. Most of all, I am grateful for Hashem and I have faith that He is with us, b’nai Israel, as He has always been and will continue to be for all eternity.