In Love with Jerusalem

Nataliya and her husband, Pavel, made Aliyah from Evpatoria in Crimea.

Nataliya tells her story:

I had thoughts about making Aliyah, returning to my roots, already a while back.  However, when I got married my plans had to be postponed as my husband was a military man.  My aunt was the first in the family to leave – she has lived in Israel for more than ten years and has been constantly inviting us to join her.  Although she lives there with her children she still feels lonely and wants the whole family to be there.  We couldn’t make Aliyah when my husband was in the Army but now, finally, our dream is coming true!  We really want to start our family in Israel, our historical homeland.  Also, another motivation for us is the present situation in Crimea.  We wish Crimea all the best but, unfortunately, we don’t see any bright prospects.

After my husband finished his military service we decided to go to Israel and visit our relatives there.  At the same time we wanted to experience the ‘atmosphere’ in Israel – to have a better picture about where we are going to live.  When we arrived, we toured around the country.  For me what was important wasn’t the tour itself but to feel the ‘spirit’ of Israel.  I wanted to see as much as possible in one trip to, so to speak, ‘embrace the whole of Israel’.  We visited almost everywhere but I liked Jerusalem most of all.  It is an extraordinary city and I immediately fell in love.  I was deeply impressed by the Western Wall or the Wailing Wall.  Even now when I talk about Jerusalem I’m getting goose bumps!  When I got there I felt an indescribable closeness, as if this place was for me very close and native to me.  I was literally glued to the wall; it was very difficult for me to leave that place!  Although I knew it was time to go and my tour group was waiting for me I couldn’t move!  I was looking for something like this all my life although I’m not a religious person and can’t pray.  So I was impressed by Jerusalem.  It’s a pity that haven’t been able to settle there – but I really want to go and live in Jerusalem or close by after a while.

I can only recall one occasion in my life when I was in 1st or 2nd grade at school and one of the children called me ‘Yid’.  I don’t remember the details now but I remember the event forever.  Even my grandfather, who was not Jewish, faced anti Semitism.  After the war he was awarded with two of the highest awards of the USSR.  Then, I think, in the 50’s he was the Chief of the Military HQ and it was suggested that he divorce my grandmother because she was Jewish.  He refused and, as a result, was fired from the army.  It was a huge shock to him and he died six months later though he wasn’t yet forty years old and had been completely healthy.

My parents are staying here for now but I want to take them to Israel as soon as we settle there.  My husband’s parents don’t agree with our move and that’s a worry for him.

Ezra helped us with payments for passports, transport to the airport on the day of our flight and paying for extra luggage.  Thank you so much for your work.  It is very unusual to have strangers helping us!