Aviva Menche grew up in Northeast Philadelphia in an Orthodox household with strong Zionist values. She kept noticing that Jewish prayers were about “aspiring to go to Israel,” as she put it. Then she spent a year studying in the Jewish state after her high school graduation.
Menche came back with a question for her mother, Karine Koloski: Why do Jews always say, ‘Next year in Jerusalem?’ Why not this year?
In 2020 at age 28, Menche made Aliyah with her husband, Ariel Menche, and young daughter. They settled in Tel Aviv, joined two synagogues and had a second child. The Philadelphia native, a former high school basketball player, also picked up netball and played for Israel in the 2022 Maccabiah Games.
The Jewish Exponent profiled her in July 2022 during those games.
But then Oct. 7 happened, and Menche had to return home with Ariel and their two young children. From her parents’ home in Cherry Hill, she discussed that harrowing journey.