Updated: May 5, 2021
Guest blog by Ayelet Ashkanazy
Dear Future Bat Sheirut,
Throughout my Aliyah process, I got a lot of comments along the lines of, "you know making Aliyah isn't easy.” It frustrated me because obviously, no part of me thought that moving 7000 miles away from my parents to a new country with a different language was going to be easy. On the contrary, I expected it to be hard.
I came into sheirut with a lot of expectations about what my job would be, how I would adapt to Israeli culture, and learning Hebrew. I also had certain expectations about who my roommates would be, and what my apartment would be like.
Another thing I realized about my expectations was that many of them were based on other people's experiences, which is crazy since there is no chance that my experiences would be the same as anyone else's.
The funny thing about expectations that most people don't realize is that reality doesn't always play out the same way you "expected" it to.
And while I knew that no one’s experience would be the same as mine, I think that knowing what other girls found difficult actually prepared me to handle those situations, and I'm happy that I spoke to people who, not so long ago, were in the same position I was in.
By hearing from them and what they found challenging or easy, I was able to adjust my own expectations. This helped to prepare me in order to handle similar situations on my own. I was able to adjust and adapt accordingly because I was able to have perspective. I had to remind myself that my expectations were simply expectations, and an expectation is not the same as reality.
Your year of sheirut will be FULL of challenges and difficulties, and I promise you there will be days when all you'll want to do is get in bed with some Ben & Jerry's and cry. That's okay, though we all have those days. When you go through those hard patches, it is important to remember why you chose to dedicate a year of your life to serving the State of Israel. You chose to spend your year giving back to a country that will always be your home.
As you spend a year serving your new neighbors and community, remember that every single bat sheirut plays an important role in Israeli society. Without you, there wouldn't be enough staff in hospitals, schools, or government offices. It's easy for other people to overlook the work that bnot sheirut do because we're not in a physical uniform and we don’t carry guns. What they don't realize is uniform or not, the country would not be able to function without the services we do every single day. THAT is the reality!
My advice to all future bnot sheirut is to talk to girls who went through it already, set realistic expectations, and remember that no matter how many girls you speak with, your experience will always be a little different. Prepare yourself for the unexpected and embrace the new scary life you have chosen to live. The year ahead will be challenging. You will face challenges and obstacles that you will have to overcome. But you will also experience successes that you will celebrate with your families back at home, and your new families in Israel.
There will be really good days and really bad days, but no matter what, remember why you moved to Israel and why you have chosen to dedicate yourself to your country. It's easy to remember why you do what you do on the good days. On those days your reality might even exceed your expectations. The challenge is remembering why you do what you do on the days when reality does not meet your expectations. Those are the days when you need to readjust your expectations, but that is what you do in any reality.
בהצלחה Ayelet Ashkanazy