When I first heard about Ayalim, what struck me most was the fact that I had no idea what this program even was. Here was a group of young innovators, continuing the job of establishing the country of Israel that I in America thought was long over. Here was a community that saw the change they wanted in the world and picked themselves up from nothing to achieve their dreams not just through words, but the actions to make these dreams happen. Here was a society being created with the common goal of bringing what had been discussed for fifty years, the development of the periphery of Israel, and making it a reality. I wanted to know what was going on for myself, I wanted to be a part of having a hand in the future of the Jewish State. How in the world was all this happening, and no one had told me about it? How was it possible that when I discussed this Association with people they had never even heard of it? I wanted to take action myself, stop talking the talk and get my hands dirty doing things that needed to be done, no longer letting other people do all the work that I knew I was going to benefit from.
In America, it is easy to feel a disconnect to taking action for one's beliefs. The apathy of my generation is rampant not because of any lack of a desire to make change, but rather the burden, whether warranted or not, of feeling any change we struggle to create surely cannot be achieved in the climate of contention both at home and abroad. Here was a chance for me to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to be on the ground level of a change that is happening and no one can stop. Combining that with the Land of Israel, which I'd always longed for more of a connection to, only made this mission greater to me. I thought I knew what it meant to be a Zionist. To support the idea of a homeland for the Jews, to defend her reputation at home, and if needed, criticize and disagree in a healthy productive way when warranted. It wasn't until I arrived here in Ashalim that I realized that to be a part of creating that vessel that needed support, defence, and criticism could be so powerful.
There is work to be done here, and one need not make Aliyah to be an integral part of that. Living and working here evokes a feeling like no other. It is a feeling distinctly Jewish, raw and emotional, indescribable and touching. Wherever life should take me after this, I always will hold in my heart that I am a part of the people that did not rest, and made clear and evident the fact that there is still and always will be work to do in our homeland.