Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Go North - Living in Northern Israel


The Aliyah organization "Nefesh B'Nefesh" (NBN) offers a special "Go North" programme for new immigrants (Olim) to Israel. 

Nefesh B'Nefesh is organizing Aliyah to Israel from Canada, the US, England and France. In other countries, the Jewish Agency is still in charge.

For many years, most Olim settled in the big centers such as Tel Aviv, Modi'in, Netanyah or Jerusalem. The French like Ashdod, the Russians too but also Haifa and Carmiel. Young Olim love the action in Tel Aviv and the more religious ones prefer Jerusalem. Moreover, Beersheva in the Negev has become quite popular among English speakers and the city has changed a lot. Cosmopolitan and bars instead of the Beduine Market on Thursdays. 

Now NBN offers the north. Maybe because the centers are too overcrowded, too expensive and job opportunities are getting less and less. The north, however, doesn't offer too many jobs either unless you move to Haifa or Carmiel. Nevertheless, the north has a great landscape, the inhabitants are not so stressed and it is much more quiet and peaceful (when the Hizbollah keeps quiet). 

Many new immigrants are making Aliyah with lots of enthusiasm. A new country, a Jewish country, no more justifications for being Jewish, Zionism, whatever. And in order to live like a real Zionist pioneer, one maybe should settle in the north or south. Going against the mainstream !

After all, many new immigrants don't consider certain society problems before moving up north. There are places where the local population mainly consists of Sephardic Jews. Jews from Morocco, Kurdish Jews, Jews from Iran or Iraq. A totally different mentality compared to Ashkenazic Jewry. Let me give you just one example: Tiberias at the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) has a high percentage of Sephardic Jews. And Sephardic Jews are known for not having too many English language skills. They usually speak Hebrew, their languages from their former Arab countires or French (as the Moroccans). 

There are new immigrants, especially English speakers, who settled in the Golan Heights or other places up north and they are totally isolated due to the lack of Hebrew. After making Aliyah, it will take you a long time to learn Hebrew. One Ulpan (language course) for six months is not very efficient and only provides you with some basics. In order to have real conversations or make friends, you need to continue studying. As a result, many Anglo immigrants living up north are lonely. They may live in a small town or a village but without further contact to the local population. 

The young Chabadnik Eli Naiditch from the Chabad - Hostel "Ascent" in Zfat has met such lonely people and is now trying to get in touch with Nefesh B'Nefesh in order to arrange regular meetings with Anglo immigrants from the north. I personally think that this is a very good idea although Eli has just started building up connections. 

New immigrants settling in the north deserve a high level of respect because it is anything but easy living there. Not too many jobs opportunities, lower salaries and not too much action either. Tiberias or Zfat don't even have a cinema. So be prepared !


  1. I'm sure some people make Aliyah with good intentions but then the reality of it all kicks in.

    I'm sure there are many people here in the Diaspora who would make Aliyah but are holding out for numerous reasons.

    One of the main concerns in Parnassoh and adjusting to a completely different mind set (culturally). What's the point of making Aliyah if you move from one community straight into an Anglo community?

    Gut Shabbos

  2. B"H

    Very good points and I am going to write an article on this tonight !!!

    Shavua Tov