By Mark Levy and Aaron Pomerantz
Last Updated 4/28/2017 at 3:30 PM
Bucks County, Pennsylvania: With Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) right around the corner, Israelis are celebrating another milestone: the 6th Anniversary of Philadelphia-area resident Jeremy S. being “just about to make Aliyah“. Jeremy, a 29-year-old technical writer and musician, has been “like almost ready” to make the return to Zion since attending a Matisyahu concert in April of 2011 “that like really changed the way I look at life“. The Daily Freier spoke with Jeremy about his on-again/off-again longing for Eretz Yisrael.
“So I’m still like super-stoked to do this.” Jeremy explained, as he ate lunch at a hummus place near Cherry Hill. “But at first it was like, Wait. The Army??? I don’t want to peel potatoes for three years. Maybe if I was promised Intelligence or something. But then there’s my Hebrew. And Ulpan just seems super hard and not really like focused on my needs, you know? Like my friend says it’s full of the French and Ukrainians. So maybe when a lot of Americans start to make Aliyah it will be better for me? I would even do a class with some Canadians.”
Jeremy is already on his 3rd Aliyah Counselor, with his first Aliyah counselor rapidly approaching mandatory retirement age. Additionally, half of the people in his original planned Aliyah group have already integrated into society and become so Israeli that in the Spring of 2015 they moved to Berlin for economic reasons.
Jeremy’s Rabbi in suburban Philly has so far written six letters to the Israeli Government attesting to Jeremy’s membership in the Covenant of Abraham. Rabbi Stanley Green, of Congregation Agudath Israel, has become so exasperated with the process that for the latest request he simply took a sheet of Synagogue letterhead and scrawled with a pen “Not again! He’s still Jewish!”
Jeremy’s gutsy almost-decision has affected his family as well. His mom Linda joined us via Skype after we helped explain “what all of the buttons on the computer do” and shared her concerns. “As a parent, you never stop worrying about your kids.” Linda explained. “So with the crazy situation over there in the Middle East, and Jeremy almost sort of moving there, well you can imagine my almost sort of anxiety. I’m just concerned that if Matisyahu’s band or those nice girls in A-WA tour the East Coast again this Summer, that Jeremy might take the next step and schedule another Aliyah appointment in Manhattan with Nefesh B’Nefesh. But I’m pretty sure Nefesh started screening his calls some time in 2014.”
Reaction to Jeremy’s slow-motion-Aliyah within the Greater Tel Aviv Community have been rather mixed. North Tel Aviv resident Mark S. explained. “So he subletted my apartment in July 2015 because he was ‘this close‘ to moving here for good. And at the end he asked if he could leave a bag in my apartment because he was ‘like definitely making Aliyah after the High Holidays.‘ I guess the joke is on me because he didn’t specify the exact year of the High Holidays after which he would make Aliyah. Also I checked the bag last week and it contains parts of a tent, a tea set, a pair of drawstring linen trousers, some old vitamins, and spices from the Shuk.”
While Jeremy remains on the fence in terms of Aliyah, he has not allowed his cold feet to limit his social activism on behalf of the Almost Maybe Possible Future Olim Community. He started a Facebook group called “Keep Almost Olim Almost in Israel” dedicated to the unique needs and issues facing Almost Olim, to include the lack of support provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh for those who have been about to make Aliyah since Obama’s first term. Jeremy is also contemplating going onto Secret Tel Aviv and asking for future free stuff for when he becomes a Lone Soldier.