Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Letter To A Fellow Immigrant To Israel

24 of the Second Month 5772

Below is a cleaned up version of a message I sent to a relative strange who posted a message on Facebook, which was then circulated.  He seemed down about life in Israel, particularly as a single man, and was wondering if making aliyah was the best decision.

Even though he posted it semi-publicly, and it's made the rounds, I still don't feel comfortable publishing his name or his original post.

Let my Esser Agaroth be applicable as a general response to such quandaries.

Hey, "Re'uven,"
(not his real name)

Your post on Facebook was being passed around.  Please take this act as people caring about a fellow Jew, and not something negative.  Israel is the only true homeland of the Jewish People.  I'm not sure how long you've been here, but I guess the honeymoon's over.   

I, too, came here alone (and without a trust fund either).  You're right about the need to find a community. You can do anything with a community supporting you.  Personally, I never lived in the "ghetto." (ie. an exclusively English speaking community).  That's not for everyone, of course.  But, it worked for me, even though it was hard.   It's hard to break into native Israeli circles of friends, even in yeshiva or in the army, especially when many of them have known each other from Kindergarten through army service.  

You were wondering why you did not find Anglos sticking together.  I can't really say why, because I always thought they did, in those predominantly English-speaking communities I mentioned.  Those aren't for me, but I now recommend them, if that's how olim (immigrants) feel best about finding that sense of community.

I've been here almost 15 years, and it's actually the "Anglos" who have taken advantage of me, rather than the [native] "Israelis," I, unfortunately, often hear Anglos complain about.  I really try to stay away from anything that suggests "us and them."  I may not be considered "Israeli," but I am a Jew living in Eretz Yisra'el, just like "Israelis," and that's how I identify.

The first few years were hard.  I then found years 3, 5, 7, and10 also to be hard.  Then, I realized that my difficulties ceased to be difficulties related to living in Israel, but just plain ol' difficulties.  The country where I was living didn't matter.  

Our Sages z"l state that three gifts were given to Israel, but only through suffering: Torah, Eretz Yisrael, and the World to Come (Talmud Bavli, Brekhoth 5a).  As far as Eretz Yisrael is concerned, I have seen, and experienced, the "suffering" as adapting to a new culture, a new language (even though it's our language), a new form of bureaucracy, a new standard of living and economic situation.  I find that most people who don't "make it," are the ones who can't deal with different standards of living.  I believe this is evidence of just how materialistic Anglos can be.

Psychological research has shown that immigration to a new country is number three, after death and divorce (לא עלינו) on the list of the most stressful events incurred in life.  At least, that was the case 15 years ago, when I first hear the study.  Obviously, only you can decide what is right for you.  I was told by the shali'ah in Los Angeles, 16 years ago, that 50% of North Americans return "home" within five years of making aliyah. It's a shame that North America is still referred to as "home," both by the shali'ah , and by many olim.  But, that's not the point right now.  Fifty percent is a lot.  I hope it's gone down since then. 

You don't know me, but I felt compelled to write, and figured that the worst thing that could happen would be that you'd blow up at me, telling me to mind my own business, or just delete this.  Please note, I'm not giving you advice.  I'm just sharing my experience with you.

I'd say "hang in there," but maybe that would also be considered advice.  Nonetheless, I hung in here, and I'm still here, and happier than I would have been in the U. S.  I'm not sure what was promised to you by Nefesh b'Nefesh, or by anyone else.  But if it turned out to be..."incorrect," then that should definitely be corrected.

Let me know if I can help with anything.  I can't promise anything, like finding you a wife (the shidduch/shadkanit scene is a horrific mess, both in Israel AND in the U. S.  But I could try or point you in the right direction.

Take care,


Batya said...

We're here over 40 years and there was never any "looking back."
Why have the more recent (than my husband and I) FSU olim done so well after starting with so little?
Maybe the problem is with our "American mentality" expecting too much from others...

Cosmic X said...

ארץ ישראל נקנית בייסורים

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