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There is a word in Hebrew for people like me, those who choose to leave their country and move to Israel: We are called olim, from the word la’alot, meaning to rise or “go up” to the land. We step into the unknown, away from our family and friends, our jobs, our comforts and our mother tongues to fulfill the destiny God promised Abraham and his descendants.

Almost 30 years ago, my husband, Jeff, and I left Maryland and moved to the southern city of Beer Sheva, the cultural capital of the Negev desert. Jeff’s sister had moved there several years earlier, and what she told us about life in Israel spoke to a longing in our souls.

We were in our twenties, seeking something we hadn’t been able to find anywhere else—a spiritual belonging. We wanted to feel closer to God and be among other religious Jews. That didn’t mean leaving everything we knew behind would be easy. Trekking halfway around the world to start a new life, becoming impoverished in a second language.… We’re like Abraham himself, I thought.

 

Abraham had journeyed to what is now Beer Sheva, led only by God’s calling. Had our patriarch been as nervous as we were? He struggled to make a life. When locals stole from the wells that Abraham had built, he was forced to confront the Philistine king Abimelech.

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Round two of worries to contend with. Two weeks ago, we received word that the physiotherapist in Mom’s care facility was diagnosed with COVID-19. It was highly unlikely that Mom would be infected from the physiotherapist. He wore protective gear throughout his twice-weekly sessions with the residents. And Mom barely participates in those activities. What worried me was if he had infected other staff or residents—those people who she is more exposed to—she could pick it up.

Thankfully, we passed that hurdle with flying colors. 

Now, there is more to worry about. Two residents at Mom’s care facility have been taken to hospital after contracting COVID-19; four staff members are in isolation. 
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