Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Israel, Aliyah and unexpected Difficulties


I am glad having made Aliyah to Israel with the Jewish Agency and not with the popular Nefesh be’Nefesh (NBN). One reason is that NBN is mainly active in the North America and England and not where I came from: Germany. 

NBN is extremely popular due to its generous financial support the organization hands out to each Oleh (new immigrant). Furthermore, if an American or Canadian Jew wants to make Aliyah to Israel, he basically depends upon NBN, as there is hardly any other possibility except for flying to Israel at one’s own expenses and ask for Aliyah at a local branch of the Ministry of the Interior. 

I have actually met Americans not using NBN because the organization receives large funding from extreme Christian missionary organizations such as the Evangelical Christians. I have also met Americans coming with NBN and constantly complaining. Nefesh be’Nefesh would not have told them about the real life in Israel. About the different mentalities, difficulties finding a job and learning a new language. 

Unfortunately there are still plenty of native English speakers who cannot communicate in Hebrew. Even after years of living in the country. After NBN is paying such huge sums to immigrants, Israelis don’t understand why Anglos are not too eager to learn Hebrew. If you want a job in this country you usually need a good portion of Hebrew. In order to get absorbed into society and not only into the country, you need to know the language. There are thousands of Anglos who don’t understand Israeli society and instead, live in their own ghetto. Mostly the English ARUTZ 7 or JERUSALEM POST readership. New immigrants not knowing Hebrew have no idea about society. They are in a new country and claiming it as their home but have they really arrived ? 

I could keep up my German world. Find a job where I need German, only have German friends and only watch German TV. Very soon I will be in my little German ghetto. However, this was not my goal at all when I came to Israel. Already at my first Kibbutz Ulpan I invested most of my time in studying Hebrew in and outside the classroom. 

As a new immigrant, you should not forget about your former country and culture but the worst you can do is come to Israel and immediately set up your own little America. Plenty of American and Canadian Olim do so and it reminds me of a saying from the Baal Shem Tov: 

“You are where your thoughts are !”
You may have made Aliyah and be an Israeli but in real life you are not because you are still in America (where your thoughts are). 


"Go North" - Living in Northern Israel


  1. B"H

    I think if one wants to make Aliyah then they ought to spend some time in various communities to find a community they can live in.

    Some may prefer a Charedi community and others a mixture of religious and secular.Many people will choose to live close to family, friends who have already made Aliyah. Others will factor in the financial costs of buying vs renting.

    It also depends what kind of work can you do. How well you speak Hebrew. And if you are coming with qualifications you may need to become certified in Israel.

    You are right. There is no point comparing to how things are done back in the States or you begin to struggle with adapting to a lifestyle you are not accustomed to.

    Then when it comes to teens. Some families won't want to make Aliyah with teens for fear that their teens will go off the derech.

  2. B"H

    Having children in school can be a big problem and there are lots of examples in Israel where teenagers weren't able to adjust. Especially due to language problems, as, many times, Israeli schools put the students who have just made Aliyah, into regular classes.

    Go off the Derech ?
    There are plenty of religious schools available, too.

    I made Aliyah as a single and for me it has always been important living among Israelis and not searching for other Olim.

  3. How many of these teens will remain frum?

    How many of them will be influenced by others who don't live an Observant lifestyle?

    This could be one of the reasons families seek out other communities where they can remain in an Anglo "bubble".

    NBN ought to mention the realities of Aliyah and not sugar coat it.

  4. B"H

    I don't see such a big problem in it. When frum kids continue going to religious schools, they will automatically have a religious environment. Friends and everything. Then there is no need looking for outside ideas.

    The same in the US or elsewhere where the children go to Jewish schools and built up their frum surrounding.

    According to my experience, Anglos stick together because of the language and mentality. I always hear them talking about the US, for instance. That Israel and Israelis are like that but in the States its better.

    The best way making Aliyah is coming to Israel before the actual Aliyah process and looking around. Staying for a couple of weeks and looking into different places and opportunities.

    If people just jump onto the NBN planes without having an idea what to expect, they may get deeply disappointed.

  5. Some people feel that as the US economy isn't doing so great that it seems like the right time for making Aliyah.

    Making Aliyah is a big adjustment for someone. Even if they are single or have a young family.

    I've heard some people who won't make Aliyah as a single. Maybe you would like to share your success on making Aliyah as a single.

    One of the main concerns many have is the lack of any guarantee of not finding a job which you are qualified to do. I'm sure some people will start up a small business. Some will work from home.

    How many Anglo Olim actually speak Hebrew fluently?

    Making Aliyah also means earning less..Unless you just so happen to work for an American tech company.

    When things don't go right and people become homesick.This is when the disappointment kicks in and they as you said end up leaving.

    I think it's best to spend some time and live in Eretz Yisroel for six months up to a year.

    Look into schools. Find a shul. I don't know how many kids from the Dati Leumi go off the derech or even if it's the MO kids who become less observant.

    Anglo's may feel comfortable living amongst other Anglo Olim. But how can one truly make the transition if they are not willing to do so.

    There is no point in comparing life in the States/UK/Australia to life in Israel.

  6. B"H

    I am going to share some of my experiences in a new article tonight !!!