All posts by Rachel van Koningsveld

Critical care registered nurse from Dallas, Texas who made Aliyah. Follow me on my journey, and fall in love with the land of Israel! Hopefully my story can inspire and encourage others to make return home as well. Feel free to send me any questions, or even your own story so I can share it here!

Your Story: Dejah Lachow

People don’t like to hear it, but we weren’t able to thrive in the US. I’m $40,000 in debt from one year of college (at a state school! Not private!) And had been working 2 full-time jobs just to get by with no chance of going back. I moved here for the education benefits. I’m under 27, so I can get my bachelor’s paid for here, and the other financial support I receive as a new immigrant is more help than I’ve ever gotten from anyone since I was 17. Even with corona happening, this is the only path I had forward. Plus the healthcare. I hadn’t seen a doctor in 5 years in the states because I couldn’t afford insurance, and made too much money for medicare/Obamacare. I was above the poverty line because of my two jobs, but once you factored in rent, car insurance, food, debt payments, etc., I didn’t have enough for the $100/mo plus deductibles and copays and the time off to see a doctor.

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How to Get Married in Israel During COVID-19

My husband and I were matched online through sister sites Saw You At Sinai and See You in Israel (co-created by Nefesh B’Nefesh) on January 15, 2020. I was a critical care nurse from Texas, and Akiva was a policy officer for CIDI, a pro-Israel lobby group in the Netherlands. It was a perfect match. We had the same beliefs, values, religious observance, politics, and goals in life. After exchanging a few texts and calling a few times, it became clear that we had the exact same sense of humor as well! The only problem was we were living in two different countries, literally an ocean apart. Hearing I was planning a trip to Israel, Akiva decided to meet me there, and we met in person in Jerusalem. We went on two dates before returning to our respective countries. Then COVID-19 hit, and international travel was banned. We continued texting back and forth and making video calls that would last over 6 hours. Quite a feat considering a time difference of seven hours! We fell in love over our mutual love of Hashem, Israel, the Jewish people, and good memes. We met each other’s family over Zoom.

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I Made Aliyah, What Now?

So you made it to your aliyah flight! You brought your spouse, kids, luggage, and important documents (including the letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and your receipt of having completed the isolation form within 24 hours of your flight), and you’re wondering to yourself what it’s going to look like when you arrive. How does it all work when you land?

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Making Aliyah and Getting Engaged During a Pandemic

After gathering all of my documents and submitting my application for Aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh, I interviewed with The Jewish Agency over Zoom. The meeting went smoothly, and the questions were straightforward, such as where you think you’ll live, what kind of work you do, why you want to make Aliyah, and verifying your Jewish status. Depending on when your expected Aliyah date is, the Jewish Agency will then send you a “Mazal Tov” email approving your eligibility for Aliyah. This Mazal Tov email is valid for one year, after which you must reapply to make Aliyah. My Zoom meeting took place on July 31, and I received my Mazal Tov email on August 10. But because my parents’ (who also had their Zoom meeting on July 31) expected Aliyah date isn’t until November, they didn’t receive their Mazal Tov letter until September 10. A lot of people are making Aliyah now, and the Jewish Agency has to prioritize approvals based on expected Aliyah dates.

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