(October 22, 2020 TheJ.ca) Toronto Native Makes Aliyah: “I Decided That Judaism Would Be The Most Important Thing In My Life”
Effie Mincer immigrated to Israel on August 16 and plans to complete an industrial engineering degree at the Jerusalem College of Technology
Toronto native Effie Mincer describes being in Israel for the back-to-back national observances of Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror) and Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) as a “life-changing” experience.
“We’ve always had ceremonies at school to commemorate those days and what they stand for, but I’ve never fully understood what it was all about until I was in Israel two years ago during my gap year in Yeshiva,” says Mincer, 20.
“Visiting the graves of those who’ve fought and died for our country shook me to my core. I’ve never truly understood the immense sacrifices that have been made in order for us to have the modern state of Israel. And only after understanding and internalizing all that loss, can you truly celebrate the next day, realizing how lucky we are to have the state of Israel as it is today.”
On August 16, Mincer had another life-changing experience, this time with concrete implications: He made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) with Nefesh B’Nefesh. Currently a madrich (guide) at Yeshivat Aish Hatorah in Jerusalem, he plans to complete an industrial engineering degree at the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) within the next five years.
Since its founding in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNF-USA, has facilitated the Aliyah of over 60,000 North Americans to Israel. In the following interview, Mincer recounts his Aliyah story.
Q: What was your primary motivation for making Aliyah?
A: “My main motivation was to ensure a strong religious home for me and my family. When I decided that Judaism would be the most important thing in my life, I knew that I needed to be in Israel in order to fully realize that goal.”
Q: How do you feel about making Aliyah during the uncertain time of the coronavirus pandemic?
A: “I moved from Canada, where the coronavirus situation is better than it currently is in Israel, so that aspect was a little worrisome. However, I have faith that conditions will improve in Israel soon, and I trust those around me to be safe and responsible during this time.”
Q: How has Nefesh B’Nefesh helped you navigate the Aliyah journey?
A: “Nefesh B’Nefesh has helped me through every step of the process. Their representatives were always available to take my calls and support me in any way I needed. Arriving in Israel is overwhelming, and the organization provides you a lot of crucial information at the airport. It was nice to be able to call my Aliyah advisor and get a debriefing on what I needed to do and the order in which I needed to do it, with it all being tailored to my unique personal situation. It would’ve been much more difficult, if not impossible, for me to make Aliyah without Nefesh B’Nefesh.”
Q: Can you explain why you chose to study at JCT?
A: “The college offers the chance to devote half the day to Jewish learning and half to academics, which will allow me to continue to grow spiritually while in school. The classes for the program I’m joining are all delivered in Hebrew, and that way I can become better prepared for an Israeli work environment where all my coworkers and everything I do will be in Hebrew. In the long run, I hope to work for an American company from an Israeli office, using my bilingual skills to their full extent.”
Q: Israel announced a nationwide lockdown just before Rosh Hashana. What did you do for the High Holidays this year?
A: “The Yeshiva I am studying at is in the Old City of Jerusalem, so I spent the High Holidays there. It was incredible to be able to look at the Kotel (Western Wall) and the Makom Hamikdash (where the Third Temple will stand soon) while davening. The Yeshiva davening was uplifting and inspiring; really nothing compares to being in Yeshiva for the High Holidays.”
Q: How was it different this year with Israel in a lockdown?
A: “It’s actually been amazing with the lockdown because no one is able to come in and out of the Old City in Jerusalem. The Kotel plaza is almost always empty, which is a surreal experience going down to the Kotel and not having a single other person there.”
Q: So that was quite an adjustment. How did you handle it?
A: “It’s been hard not being able to see my family at all but thank G-d the Yeshiva is an extremely warm environment and has been very accommodating with everyone’s needs during lockdown. The Yeshiva was able to have very large capsules of the different programs – it really didn’t feel so much different than a normal minyan.”
This item was supplied to TheJ.ca by J Cubed Communications
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