Neta Galili

I will never forget the night when I revealed my intention to move back to Israel to my “second family” at Arizona State University.

My friends and I spoke until long past midnight with Rabbi Shmuel and Chana Tiechtel of Chabad at ASU. I told them of my decision to join the Israel Defense Forces. The rabbi told me that by joining the IDF while simultaneously living and growing in Judaism and living an active Jewish way of life, I would be serving Am Yisrael, the Jewish people.

At my farewell party, the Tiechtel family gifted me a siddur as a reminder of my ongoing Jewish growth and the fact that no matter how far away I am from my family and friends in the U.S., they are supporting my journey.

Israel, where I previously lived for 14 years, has always felt like home. At the same time, I left the comforts of an accounting job in the U.S. that I held for a mere six months and will enter an Israeli workforce that I do not recognize. Indeed, I had everything an American university graduate could want, most notably a stable income and a promising career path. 

Yet I could not put off my dream any longer — to return to the place I call home, and to do my part to protect the Jewish nation in the IDF. At 22, I am already four years older than the average age for enlistment.

It is time to establish my life in Israel and give back to my country and my people. I am also hopeful that I can complete my MBA here and continue my accounting career following military service.

Making aliyah during the COVID-19 pandemic has added a layer of complexity to the process, and the implications reach further than the initial two-week quarantine upon my arrival in Israel. In particular, I will experience the significant differences in the IDF’s operations in this era.

Fortunately, Nefesh B’Nefesh has been a force of stability during my aliyah in otherwise unstable times. By guiding me through numerous logistical questions, NBN alleviated not only my own stress, but that of my family. Once I landed in Israel on July 21, I was reassured to know that I would have access to the same ongoing support network which served me so diligently in the months leading up to the flight.

In the upcoming days, months, and years of my new life in Israel, I will be continuously inspired by the siddur the Tiechtel family gave me and particularly by the verse from Tehillim (Psalms) 121:8: “Hashem will protect your goings and comings, from this time on and forever.” JN

Neta Galili, 22, made aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh on July 20. A native of Holon, Israel, she moved to the U.S. at 14 and graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in finance and accounting.