Monday, August 25, 2008

Young Jews, Study In Israel

One of the great myths weakening aliyah for decades is:

"It's better to get your education and some professional experience and save money abroad, first."

Chutz L'Aretz, Not-Israel, Jewish Communities are full of good Jews who listened to their parents, teachers and rabbis, too. Most gave up their youthful, naive, idealistic dreams of aliyah. A few even tried and ended up coming back.

For various reasons, we were in a rush to get to Israel, right after our 1970 wedding. We didn't buy any American furniture, didn't even use our entire "shipping allowance." We brought some books, clothes, non-electric kitchen supplies--like pots, dishes and cutlery, sheets, towels and that was it. My husband was a recent college graduate and I was a dropout.

Within a year of docking at Haifa Port, we were apartment owners. A simple apartment was within the budget of our immigrant mortgage and the wedding gifts, my mother told everybody to give us checks--"No tshatshkes, they're moving to Israel." We were also parents; I went straight from the hospital to our apartment with our firstborn.

We were lucky that our parents covered whatever loans we had for our education. In those days they were in the parents' names.

We became Israeli, picking up Hebrew and only knowing the Israeli ways of doing things.

Yes it was as easy as it sounds.

Friends who stayed abroad found their expenses competing with their savings while inflation here in Israel made mockery of the little they could squirrel away. It's not all that cheap to live in America (or wherever), and you get used to "the American way."

Doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants and nurses etc who are trained abroad still have to pass various exams here in Israel, learn Hebrew terminology and the language itself. Studying in Israel may be a little harder in the beginning, but once you get over the hump, it's lots easier than aliyah ten years or more later when you're dealing with a spouse and kids, who have their own problems.

And what about the great money myth? Today's American university students frequently finish their education owing tens of thousands of dollars. It used to be that banks were very tight with their money, only lending it to those with sufficient collateral. Now, lending is a business, big business, one of the causes for the present American recession. Telemarketers encourage loans to anyone. Credit cards offer lots of credit. Many college graduates need years to pay it all back, and some even find themselves bankrupt, because a college diploma doesn't guarantee prosperity.

If you really dream of living here in the Holy Land. If you're willing to be frugal, you can have an easier time in Israel. You'll learn Hebrew, get relevant training. You'll be part of society. Check it out!


SuperRaizy said...

I agree with you that aliyah is much easier when you are young and unburdened by debt or children. I think that successfuly building a new life in Israel calls for a lot of flexibility, which you don't have when you are juggling lots of adult responsibilities.

Batya said...

I really admire the determination of those who come later and stick it out. Many do very well, but it's not as easy as our aliyah was.

Hadassa DeYoung said...

Yes, absolutely. Unless ones parents (or some other generous benefactor) are willing to pay for all tuition costs then attending university in America is a surefire method of getting stuck in America for a long time. Coming to Israel with children is not a simple matter either. I bet that if you surveyed the reasons why olim went back to America problems with the kids would be on top of the list, even if they won't admit it. Based of what I've heard from people who came with children, I'm so glad all of ours were born here.
Also Batya, you're right when you say that it's better to learn Hebrew and attend university in Israel. Professional experience in America is almost definitely not as valuable as the contacts that will be made during studies - and work during breaks - in Israel. Also in many courses of study an oleh who knows fluent English will have a great advantage over those who don't.
And of course, opting for university studies in Israel allows one to fulfill the mitzva of living in Israel sooner.
P.S. Someone should inform Mike of all the Tora study institutions in Israel that also offer degree programs. I wonder if we'll ever find out who he is, where he really lives and whether or not he believes half of what he writes.

Batya said...

thanks, good points

ps I don't think Mike is interested in the truth.

Hadassa DeYoung said...

Mike is someone's creation. I'm not quite sure what the person, or people, behind Mike is trying to accomplish.
More importantly, do you know if there's anyone in America talking to young Jewish students about the advantages of university study in Israel? It's not an easy feat with visiting high schools impossible because of parental opposition and once the students are at university convincing them to transfer is difficult.
I have a friend who finished high school early because she skipped a year. She was not 18 when she began university, so she studied for a year in America because she couldn't legally come to Israel. And then she transferred to an Israeli university after completing all the paperwork without her parents' noticing. ;-D
She's never regretted it.
I have another friend to whom such a plan didn't occur. She and her husband eventually came on aliya, but she's always regretted not attending university in Israel

Batya said...

The Israeli system is totally different from the American. It's much more serious and professional. But it's 3 rather than 4 years. An American can spend the first in Hebrew study via the Israeli "mechina" university program and then be ready for Israeli university studies.