A love passed down through the generations
Growing up in a religious community, my whole life I have been taught that Israel is the holy land. It is the land our ancestors had to struggle to reach, driven forward by the promise of Hashem and a vision of a land of their own.
I went to a religious elementary school in Passaic, NJ where we learned all the basics of being a religious Jew, through studying the Torah and all its laws. It was only when I went to high school that when I really started to appreciate Israel, the land we call home.
At Bruriah, my high school, there was a big focus on the love for Israel that is so natural for most religious Jews. For one of our classes, we had to interview a relative of ours about their history. Naturally, I picked my grandmother, Omy. Omy was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, where her father was a Supreme Court judge. In the early onset of the war, her father, being that he was high up in the government, knew he had to get his family out of Germany as soon as possible. So, he sent his two daughters, Omy and her sister Chana, with their nanny, to live with their aunt in Amsterdam while he and his wife packed up to begin their unknown journey. Two months after Omy and Chana went to Amsterdam, they were told to pick up and go to what was then known as Palestine, to meet their parents which they missed so much.
When they got to Palestine, my grandmother’s family had to start from scratch. They came with nothing more than the dream that had sustained the Jewish people for centuries - but that doesn’t make for an easy life. Coming from Germany where they were a prominent family, to Palestine where they had nothing, was no simple task. At the age of 9, my grandmother was a delivery girl for her father’s in-house bakery. She would schlep in the boiling hot summers all around the streets of Tel Aviv so that their family could have a place to live.
When Omy became of age, she was drafted to the Army to work in the office. She would explain how she slept under tables and woke up at the crack of dawn to help the land of Israel be a place where we can all live today. She was working in the army during the Six Day War, the way she describes the excitement when the war was over, was something that words cannot even describe.
She met my grandfather, Oppapa, in Israel, but they had to move to the states for their bread and butter. Although she is not living in Israel today, her love and passion is so strong. She is Israeli at heart, and it brings her so much joy to even just to talk about the land of Israel. For her being able to speak Hebrew in the States is the most exciting thing that can happen.
Listening to Omy’s story, I was struck by the love and excitement she has for a land that she had to struggle so hard for. I was thinking that today Israel is the place to be. There is beautiful infrastructure, restaurants everywhere you turn, so many places we can go to connect to our ancestors, yet I was living in the states. My grandmother's love was passed down from one generation to the next.
When I met my husband, a big factor was if he was willing to move to Israel to see if we can make it work, and thank G-d he was. Today we are here, and we could not be happier. We are living in the place that so many before us fought for, from our forefathers all the way down to my Omy, and I am here to continue that legacy of fighting for what we believe in.
When I heard about Israel Forever, I thought to myself what an amazing opportunity this is to share my love with those who don’t have the opportunity to live here. There is so much one can do from the Diaspora, and as we fight the growing hate against Jews everywhere, I believe that the thing that matters the most is being proud of where you come from and letting people know. No one can give up the good fight if you have a passion for what you believe it and who you are. That is what gets passed on to the next generation, and is probably one of the most essential elements of how we, the Jewish people, have outlasted so many nations, facing so many threats again and again: our faith, our pride, our memory.
My grandmother is a prime example of someone who lets her passion and love for Jews and their land shine. I am proud to be carrying out her legacy and inspiring others to feel and do more.
Growing up in Clifton, NJ, Rivka Coleman and her family always had a love for the Jewish homeland, Israel. Rivka and two of her siblings have since made the choice to live in Israel, where Rivka and her husband hope to make it their permanent home. She is proud to use her knowledge in marketing to help strengthen people’s love for Israel.