How it all began

Hello reader and thank you for tuning in!

Welcome to my blog that I’ve been debating on starting since last year. I’ve come to my senses and decided that if I don’t start my blog, it will never happen.

To briefly explain myself, my name is Samantha Harris and I am 25 years old. I was born in Chicago, IL, USA. I went to Solomon Schechter Day School, Niles North High School and DePaul University, which are all in or near Chicago. I spent 25 years of my life in Chicago but made the courageous decision to pick up all that is familiar to me and move across the world to the beautiful Land of Israel.

In November of 2012, my life took a 180 when my mother, step father and one of my sisters moved to Israel. I stayed in Chicago to finish my BFA in Graphic Design from DePaul and to gain some working experience in my field. I had my heart set on Israel since I went on my Birthright trip during Hanukah in 2011 but it seemed like an impossible move and I was not so sure that was what I really wanted. But hey, I was 20-years-old at the time- what did I know? (Birthright is a free trip given to Jewish adults between the ages of 18–26 to expose them to the land, history, culture, and religious significance of Israel.)

After I graduated, I found myself working my first full-time job at a Broadway production company. The job was great and had some fun perks. Once I saved up enough, I moved out of my father and step mother’s house and into my first adult apartment in the magnificent Lincoln Park area of Chicago. Shortly after moving in, one of my friends helped me get a job working with him for a major retailer in North America, where I worked as a web developer deploying emails.

I truly loved working as a web developer. I learned how to use a new coding language, knew the work I was doing reached millions of people, knew I helped boost the company’s revenue and I made some amazing friends in the process. My ultimate goal was to pay off my dreaded student loans as quickly as possible and move to Israel debt free! One day in June 2015 something clicked and I decided I can’t live my life for The Man. I would not let the plague of my student loans hold me back from reaching my goals and dreams. I applied the next day to “make Aliyah.”

Aliyah is the word that describes the return of the Jewish People from the exile in the Diaspora back to the Land of Israel. The word Aliyah comes from the verb “la’alot” which means “to go up”, or “to ascend” in a positive spiritual sense. A person who makes Aliyah is called an Oleh or Olah depending on their gender, meaning “one who goes up”.

The process of becoming an Olah was slow and steady. I made sure I would give myself enough time to have all the paperwork done and not rush into anything I would regret. I’m the type of person to carefully plan out all that I do and I was sure to not let this be too rushed, given that it would be the most significant change in my life to date. I applied for Aliyah through the Jewish Agency for Israel and they made the process smooth. Without them, I would never have been able to do this, so THANK YOU!

So the real question is, “Why Aliyah and Why Now?”

I’d like to share an excerpt from a letter I wrote to my dad and step mom to let them know about my decision to move. Here goes…

“I’m excited and nervous to be giving you this letter. I will be moving to Israel at the beginning of 2016. There are a few reasons for my decision. I feel like I’m doing nothing with my life. I graduated from college, have a fantastic job that allows me to learn new skills, and I live independently. The routine kills me. Every day: wake up, put together some food for work, get dressed, work, go home, sleep and repeat. The thrill has gone. Getting a paycheck is now what I live for every day and to pay off my student loans. I’m ready for something new to break up this dreaded routine that responsible adults face every day. Some chose to go against the norm and others do not. I don’t want to be 80 years old and think about how I lived my entire life doing nothing but just getting by because that’s what I’m supposed to do…

I have done a fair amount of reading from silly websites that are probably a waste of time, such as Buzzfeed and Elite Daily. Judging by their articles, I know I am not alone in some of my feelings about working, paying off loans and basically growing up. It seems that a significant amount people close to my age experience this frustration with life. Sitting idly by and doing nothing would have been the end of me.

I believe I picked the right time to move because nothing could tie me down in Chicago once I would have saved up enough money and worked myself up mentally to be able to handle moving over 6,000 miles away from the one place I called home for 25 years. Not having a husband, a child, a mortgage, a car and so much more provided me with the freedom to move.

Freedom is what I have always wanted and I would like to think that I am continuing to achieve for myself everyday. I don’t know where I’ll be in 5, 20, or 50 years but I know being in Israel now is a necessary step on my journey. I’m going with the flow and you can’t stop me!