If they could do that…

If they could do that…
On Living in Israel

I think that as much as we can try to prepare for aliyah, there will always be things we haven’t expected, and knowing/being prepared intellectually is also not the same as actually experiencing it. Moving to a new community anywhere will require getting used to new services and finding our way around the  supermarket – and yes, it is more difficult when you can’t read/understand the labels. (Veterans should not go shopping with new olim if they want to get out of the supermarket in a reasonable amount of time.) Even moving from one Anglo country to another is a major transition; at least here we have the support of many others who have done/are doing the same thing. That helps. Also, always looking for the positive aspects of life here and reminding ourselves why we  came can help to get us through the rough spots. I’ve learned that it can be really good in some ways and really difficult in others at the same time. To be able to acknowledge the mixed bag is important in being able to move on.

And, living in Rehovot where there are many Anglos who made aliyah 30 +/- years ago who are still here is very uplifting – especially when you find out that they didn’t have phone service here (landlines) for about 7 -10 years after they came. And, they carted home – literally – newly purchased furniture. If they could do that…

I’ve excerpted from Sarah Azulay’s post entitled So you want to move to Israel on Aish.com but it really pays to read the whole post to understand why they came and how things have finally come together for them. She seems to me to sum up the aliyah experience in a realistic yet positive way:

It is now just over two years later and I must admit that it has been one of the most difficult transitions I have experienced. I never fathomed the magnitude of the transition — the family, friends and community we would miss; the barrier of the language and the simple ability to understand and express myself whether overjoyed or overwhelmed; the variant careers paths; and giving up all that is familiar — knowing where everything is on the grocery aisle, the educational system, the friendly bank teller, our pediatrician, over-the-counter medicines that worked best when our children had fevers, and an endless list of what comprises the daily routines that constitutes the comfort of the familiar.

Yet there is no description for the sense of holiness that pervades Israel — despite the traffic, the long lines, the belligerence, affectionately known as  “chutzpah.” The Talmud says that “to acquire Israel, you have to suffer.” Isn’t this true of all that is  worthwhile, of every milestone which a person  accomplishes on his life’s journey? There is a pride that comes from knowing that despite the cultural obstacles, the ongoing terrorist attacks which threaten us, the bureaucratic headaches, you have somehow done it. You made the move; you are privileged to live every day in a land that our recent ancestors could only dream about.

IMHO, the best thing we can do for those of us who are already here and for those who are planning their aliyah is to offer strength and encouragement (I, for one, still need it), which does not mean being unrealistic.

My posting to the Nefesh B’Nefesh Yahoo forum, July 1, 2011, in  a conversation about the trials and tribulations of making aliyah.

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