Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aliyah as a Single, Part 1


First of all I should make it clear that I am a happy single and not one of those depressed ones, constantly looking for someone to marry or being bored, calling other people and going on their nerves. I am a happy single and this may sound selfish. All my life I have enjoyed doing things alone. Of course it is great to have company from time to time but I don’t panic when I am alone. Just the opposite. 

One reader wrote in a comment that many American Jews reconsider making Aliyah to Israel, as long as they are unmarried. Simply because it is easier immigrating with a family because then you won’t feel lonely in the new country. Well, making Aliyah with a family has its pros and cons but let me tell you first, that I have met plenty of American singles making Aliyah. 

My first time in Israel began in September 1987 as a Kibbutz volunteer. A secular Kibbutz called GEZER near Tel Aviv and Ramle. Many of you probably know Gezer for its high percentage of Anglos living there as well as its baseball team. In fact, when I came, most Kibbutz members came from all over the United States and English was the main language. Most Anglo members knew some Hebrew but felt more comfortable talking in English. Gezer then was celebrating Israel’s Independence Day and July 4, with Hot Dogs. Little America next to the Sephardi town of Ramle. 

Various Anglo Kibbutz members were singles, as they came in a group from the US. Some immediately stuck together because no one wants to be alone. But, in the end, they somehow were. Moving into a Kibbutz when you are single is a mistake. Even if you find friends, there are moments when you simply feel lonely. Well, you can turn on the TV or read a book but, after a while, you are getting bored. 

After some years in the Kibbutz, those singles who were about to turn 30 started leaving. Back to the US because they were looking for a marriage partner. You always face the same people in a Kibbutz and many new immigrants have problems dealing with the Israeli mentality. They prefer a marriage partner from their own familiar background and not a “noisy rude” Israeli. 

While living in Jerusalem I came in contact with plenty of Anglos who came to Israel because of religious reasons. They were here for a year, studied in Yeshivot or seminaries for women and maybe decided to stay and make Aliyah. After a while they found their Shidduch. However, most of those newly married couples didn’t make it for too long and went back to the US, England, South Africa, Canada or Australia. Why ? Because a Yeshiva education is not sufficient on the Israeli job market. That’s why. The newly married haredi couples didn’t have any chance on the job market and lived off their parents money for one or two years. Afterwards they decided to return to their home countries. Maybe because their parents were sick of supporting them. 

Making Aliyah with a family can be a hinderance, as you tend to stick together in a group and don’t open up to the outside world. On the other hand, you support and strengthen each other and this is extremely important. 

After making Aliyah you are going to face the real Israeli life and this is very frustrating at the beginning. When you come to a government or municipality office and the clerk starts yelling at you. Not only that but throwing your forms at you, telling you to go to a different department or simply to get out. This is the first time you feel lonely; no matter whether your are single or married with husband and kids. Then you just wish to grab your suitcase and return to the US. As fast as you can. 

Nefesh be’Nefesh or the Jewish Agency may promise you, I don’t know what, but one thing you must understand before making Aliyah: Israelis don’t wait for you to come. You are nothing special as a new Oleh (immigrant). You are only one of hundreds of thousands and once you get off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport, well, this is it. Welcome to Israel and get adjusted now. Have a great day and get used to people hanging the phone up on you, loud voices, red tape, new laws, a new mentality and so on. 

Despite all the difficulties never ever forget: All new immigrants went through this and it doesn’t happen only to you ! The first one or two years are hard and you will cry, curse Israelis and their mentality, curse everything and everyone, dream of going home but, at the same time, you start loving this country. I cannot describe it but one has to experience it. Once you understand how life works here, everything will be easier for you. The understanding won’t give you a job but you learn how to deal with people. How to react and when taking issues personally. Many Israelis scream and behave in a rude way but there is no need for you to take this personally. It is just the way it is and how society works. Someone is yelling, so either yell back or let it go but don’t sit and cry. 

To be continued tomorrow !!!!

1 comment:

  1. You should write a long post on how to deal with Israeli government bureaucracy!!