Moving to Shiloh was the second best thing we have ever done. The very best thing was that move to Israel, even though our families and even some friends thought we were crazy. It was just two months after our wedding. I was a college drop-out and my husband didn't have a profession. At least he was fluent in Hebrew; my Hebrew was rather minimal.
It's not that we've become great successes and wealthy here in Israel. I sincerely doubt that we would have reached any greater relative wealth and success if we had stayed in the United States. Not all American Jews are wealthy and successful. I know that as fact. And not all are happy and secure.
One thing for sure is that we don't have to rationalize and make excuses for not making aliyah. Many of our former peers are in that rut. Some of them have perpetuated the problem by using the same faulty reasoning with their kids that kept them in the states. "Come back to America to finish college." That's the absolute worst advice one can give. Not only is an American college education expensive, but it deprives the student of the best way to learn Hebrew and get the necessary education and culturazation to succeed in Israel. It's just a tricky way to keep American Jewry going or staying put.
I've been enjoying reading the saga of Daniel Eisenbud's Odyssey in the Jerusalem Post. Eisenbud is of my children's generation and was raised in a more affluent family than me and my husband, from what I've caught in his essays. He also made aliyah much older than we did. In his latest article he writes of relative happiness and stress comparing Americans to Israelis.
Indeed, US anxiety levels have reached epidemic proportions, despite the fact that America’s borders are comparatively secure, and its citizens have endured a relatively nominal number of terrorist attacks.I don't think that Eisenbud gets it. And I'm coming to my conclusion as a terror survivor. Yes, I was injured in a terror attack, so my perspective is very first person. I don't consider myself "stoic," an adjective Eisenbud used in his article.
Conversely, and counter-intuitively, data shows that the prevalence of anxiety among Israelis is markedly lower, despite the country’s epically volatile borders and constant acts and threats of violence against it...
The difference between Israelis and their Western counterparts, I believe, is that they have experienced so much unabated violence and tragedy since the country’s founding in 1948 that they have been forced to become mentally conditioned to absorb and compartmentalize the blows – and to productively move on – more than the citizens of any other democracy in the modern world.
One of my first reactions after the terror attack was a reduction in fear. I recognized that I have no control; only G-d controls life and death. Since my survival was not due to anything I had done, then I had to relax and trust G-d. There is much more recognition or acceptance of G-d's power in Israel than in America, and that's why fewer Israelis pop various mood medications than Americans do. Even self-proclaimed secular Israelis study traditional Jewish texts in secular yeshivot, go to revivalist Jewish events, like Slichot and live according to the Jewish Calendar and holidays.
Another important difference between American and Israeli mental states is that we in Israel know who our enemy is and what it wants. The Arabs, with the backing of most of the world, want to destroy us. That knowledge helps us fight it, though as you regular readers must know I have plenty of complaints about how our government does this. Americans are more traumatized by the threat of terror, because they have no idea from where or why it may come. Bin-Ladin was executed, and United States President Barack Hussein Obama takes credit for that, but security is still high in the states. One of the reasons they refuse to profile and continue to do useless personal checks on obviously innocent people like myself is because American security experts refuse to state who the enemy is.
That results in a nebulous and constant fear, stress and tension for Americans. And because Americans keep insisting that America is the best place they get all stressed out trying to reconcile the inconsistency which is impossible.
Living in Shiloh, I don't have that problem.