Making Aliyah In The Middle Of A War

Danny Kladnitsky said he had been in love with Israel from the first time he had visited, that while he and his wife had long planned to move their family to Israel and make aliyah, not even the events of Oct. 7 and the turmoil since was able to dissuade them. The family of three moved into their Jerusalem apartment on Nov. 1.

“Israel in a way, for me, it puts Judaism into practice,” he said. “This is what it means to be like a people in our own land. And not foreigners and strangers…but I never knew if I could make a life here.”

Their original move date was Oct. 18, but was pushed out a couple of weeks because of the ongoing war with Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza.

“It gave us a little bit more time to think about it and try to understand if it’s the right decision for us,” he said.

Both Danny and Rachel Kladnitsky had spent a lot of time in Israel in earlier phases of their lives, but never together. They had talked about doing a destination wedding or honeymoon there, but several factors kept that from happening. But in May of 2022, towards the middle of Rachel’s pregnancy with their son, Judah, they decided to make the trip happen.

“We loved it,” Danny said. “There was something so special about being here. We couldn’t really necessarily envision what it would take practically to make aliyah at that point, but we knew there was something here. We can’t deny that we’re both loving it, and…we just felt at home. We felt something that we’d never felt anywhere else.”

Even if the decision to make aliyah seems like an easy one, the process is lengthy. According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization that helps facilitate aliyah, they recommend beginning your paperwork eight to 10 months before your planned aliyah date. And that’s just the first of many steps.

Despite feeling at home in Israel on a visit, the Kladnitskys still had plenty to think about what life would be like as a resident rather than a tourist.

“Practically, it was really hard to see how we can make that happen,” Danny said. The family also had lots of voices in their ears. Family – including Rachel’s two sisters who moved from Israel to Minnesota with their families – thought they should stay. Friends – particularly those who had made aliyah – thought the timing was right.

“Friends said ‘You should do it and the earlier you do it, the better because it’s even harder the more established you are,’” Danny recalled. “And so we kind of came up with like a long-term plan of how we would do it.”

Their decision was solidified after a trip to Israel with Judah earlier this year.

“We had a feeling there that we’ve never felt anywhere else,” he said. “If we’re going to leave home, we might as well go to the dream, you know, go all the way.”

There are some bureaucratic hurdles to deal with still. For starters, Rachel had made aliyah many years ago is technically a dual citizen. Therefore Judah is also, technically, a dual citizen although because he wasn’t born in the country and hadn’t lived there, it requires are a whole other set of paperwork. And would the family be considered a mishpachat olim, a family of immigrants, or olim chadashim, new immigrants?

The Kladnitskys knew that moving at this time, with everything going on, was going to require a little bit of faith.

“We had to already reimagine or reset expectations. Even when we’re discussing should we go, should we not go, is it worth going?” he said. “Everyone’s gonna be so sad. Nobody’s gonna be doing anything and our friends here in Jerusalem are like that’s just not the case. If anything there’s more passion and more enthusiasm and more unity.”

Danny says anyone interested in making aliyah are welcome to reach out to him on WhatsApp at: +16514426904