Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Prevents Aliyah?

This post is inspired by a poll on Arutz 7.
Poll: What's the biggest obstacle to Aliyah?
1. Finding a good job
2. Leaving family behind

3. Security concerns

4. Not knowing Hebrew
The answer I wanted to give isn't one of the choices.  I think that most people fear change. That's the key, and everything else is just an excuse.  The next biggest difficulty is conquering Hebrew, the fear of making mistakes, sounding stupid.
With good Hebrew, you can get a good job, not one limited to those for "English speakers."  With good Hebrew, you can become part of Israeli society and not restricted to being friends with fellow anglo (English speaking) olim, immigrants.
There is no intellectual linguistic reason to think that learning Hebrew, or any other language, is impossible.  Immigrants from all different countries to all different countries manage to learn the new language and function.
And for those Jews who have graduated from a life time of Jewish schooling, it's criminal that they're not totally fluent in Hebrew.  Jews were once, until the mid-twentieth century, known as multilingual experts.  That's why there were Jews on the ships which sailed to the new land, America.  The same students whose parents would tell me that their family is incapable of learning English would later admit that their grandparents were fluent in three or four languages.
What changed was expectations.  It used to be that immigrants expected, demanded from themselves a few months to immerse themselves in the new language and culture and then be as fluent as anyone else.  Today this is harder.  Immigrants come with their old language DVD's, ipods filled with their old music and quickly set up cable or a dish to receive television from the old country.
As I've already written, "...most people fear change."  And to make aliyah successfully, you have to change more than your address.


Anonymous said...

omg. you forgot THE ARMY!!!
the risk is great, and you are giving up years of your life, when in the us, you are investing in yourself through education.
how about the endless opportunities in the us? remember, israel is a small country; ex: so many israeli academics who go overseas for a 'post' want to come back, but there is no academic job to come back to.
also, you assume people in the us WANT to make aliyah. things are too good there.
your answer of change is universally true, and really all reasons can be seen as a subset of change. so it is far more productive to just work with the more specific reasons.
you really need to not oversimplify. i mean, lets say you were taking care of your father in america; can you imagine moving?

Batya said...

a, I have no idea who you are, but obviously G-d and His commandments are of no importance to you, neither is the long-term existence of the Jewish People.

Anonymous said...

Batya, I looked at the poll as being addressed to people who would consider aliyah.

No matter how you slice it, for most people it's employment that is the biggest worry. That's rather obvious.

Otherwise, however, what you say is true.

Batya said...

Yes, Shy, they say employment, but what they mean inside is changing jobs, routine, norms, culture society.

when I took a coaching course a number of years ago, they said that there' a way of listening when you hear what's behind the words. Sometimes people have no idea how to express what is really motivating or bothering them. I hear that bottom line.

Anonymous said...

batya, why is lack of linguistic ability, or just a fear of change, more acceptable than a fear of a wartime draft? how come the former does not merit your accusation of not caring about 'god or his commandments, or the future of the jewish people,' but the latter, my comment, does?
[and as i have mentioned before, i live in jlem.]

goyisherebbe said...

In addition to the army, I would add the educational system. The academic system is very stratified and hard to deal with, and for people who make aliya with families with children, the thought of what kind of a school to send them to is very daunting indeed.
I disagree with the point that it is too good there and therefore people will not want to make aliya. For people committed to a Jewish life either there or here, the economic differential is now debatable as to whether it is better in their countries of origin. In the US, where Jewish day schools and yeshivas have high tuition and kosher food is significantly more expensive, the cost of maintaining a large family is so much more that the salary cut in Israel is not such a factor. For non-observant Jews with few or no kids aliya is usually unthinkable because those factors don't exist.
The lack of options in jobs, being hemmed in by lack of space and mobility in Israel, all are hard to get used to. But if what it looks like is happening in the US really comes to pass, those who make aliya will get off awfully easy.

Shtuey said...

I've always known that at some point I was going to make aliyah. Learning Hebrew doesn't worry me. I already read it, and can speak a bit. I plan on working on that while I'm still here, and of course do ulpan once in Israel.

Security? I've never felt safer than when I'm in Israel.

Finding a job? It may not be easy, but it can be done.

Leaving family is the tricky part. With aging parents it will be hard to leave them, but they may also decide to come with me. I'm working on all that. At a minimum my immediate goal is to work earnestly to lay the groundwork, increase my knowledge of Hebrew, and do everything I can to make the transition as easy as possible.

Ultimately, what overrides any concerns I might have is that the best way to support our country, our people, and the will of Hashem, is to come home.

Batya said...

a, goyish, are people that terrified of the army?

goyish, your other examples are types of "change."

Shtuey, good luck!!!

Anonymous said...

oy, batya. who wouldnt fear a wartime draft?

Batya said...

a, there isn't "wartime draft" here. It's our way of life. Everyone is drafted. Of course there are exemptions, but it's the great Israeli melting pot.

goyisherebbe said...

Military service is far from universal. When we made aliya, people up into their 40s were doing minimal military service. Today the idea of army being a rite of passage for making aliya is more or less finished. A person who is able-bodied and 30 will not go through the army and will not have that baseline experience with Israeli society. The percentage of native Israelis who find ways of getting exemptions from the draft as very high. While that 30-something married with a couple of kids potential oleh can rest easy that he will not have to do army service, he will also have problems getting a license to carry a weapon and miss out on the army buddy network that gets you jobs and things. Don't wait to get established. Come here young with nothing and get all your qualifications here. Do the army and people will say, "He made aliya? I thought he was born here." It will be very different soon because things will be bad in America and the Jews will have to come. And Obama is proposing to charge Americans abroad $750 a year for a health plan we can't use. If that happens, I pull all money out of there and renounce my US citizenship.

Anonymous said...

way of life, wartime draft. tomato, tomahto. as i mentioned, even if you are not involved in forms of combat, you are delaying your personal development, i.e., your ability to make a living. this is something you would be doing in the us.
on another note, it is precisely because the army is a melting pot that hareidim refuse to serve.

$750 a year would make you give up us citizenship?!?
i dont think things are getting too bad for jews in the us any time in the foreseeable future; how do you see such a scenario playing out?

Batya said...

goyish, I agree with almost all, but I don't know about renouncing US citizenship. I just won't visit there. That's when they'll give the bill or when renewing a passport. As long as I have family there I don't want to deal with visas.

a, the Tel Aviv lefties don't serve and re: personal development, the army is lots better than the extended childhood in many other places.

Keli Ata said...

From the peanut gallery...

Once I qualify for citizenship and have the plane fare I'm there. I don't care where I live or what job I have as long as I can eat and pay the rent and have some form of health insurance since I have a many chronic health problems.

I already live a relatively simple life so I would be exchanging the simple life in the US for the simple life in Israel.

Simple life meaning--a one bedroom apartment, TV but no cable, access to a bus route and average paying job. My mp3 player is already filled with music in Hebrew so that wouldn't change.

I also walk a lot so I wouldn't need a car. Hopefully stores, doctors, etc. are within walking distance or don't require long bus trips.

Security isn't an issue because I've already been shot in the US and I'm too old to be drafted into the IDF. Crime is crime no matter where it is.

If my Italian grandparents learned English when they came to the US I should be able to pick up enough Hebrew to make my way in Israeli society.

Leaving my family would be hard but my family would be supportive since they've known about my love for Israel and desire to convert since early childhood. They'd wish me well.

My biggest fear is not having any friends in Israel, at least initially.

I wouldn't know anybody. I have a hard time making friends and getting close to people...anywhere.

Batya said...

Keli, good luck! Let me know when your aliyah gets closer. You already have friends in Israel.