Monday, June 15, 2009

Lookin' For Greener Pastures

Wanna know how the OU's Emerging Communities Fair (i.e. "The Out Of Town Fair") went? Check out the coverage over at The Rebbetzin's Husband, The NY Times, and the OU's own comic-strip version.

In the weeks leading up to the fair, the OU was criticized by some for encouraging people to relocate from NY/NJ to other Diaspora communities. The effort would be better spent, said the critics, encouraging people to move to Israel instead. To me, that's like comparing apples to oranges. Moving from one American city to another is nothing like moving from chutz la'aretz to Israel. The latter requires so much more idealism, dedication, stamina, effort, time and money. Not everyone is able or willing to undertake aliyah. For those who are, Nefesh B'Nefesh stands ready to help. For those who aren't, I think that it is perfectly proper for the OU to help them resettle elsewhere in the U.S.


Ezzie said...


If people in Israel wish to make the case for people to move there, they need to present it in a way that will get their attention.

RivkA with a capital A said...

As someone who actually moved to Israel, I will attest to the fact that the vast majority of my challenges were about MOVING and not about Aliyah -- though I did not know it at the time!!

I moved after college and had a really tough time at the start. A year later, I went back to the States and visited with many of my college friends. Imagine my surprise to discover that they were experiencing many of the same challenges as I!!!

The truth is that anytime you move to a different community, whether it be 3 States over or across the ocean, you need to learn everything from the start!

Like someone who makes Aliyah, someone who moves from NY/NJ to, say, Philadelphia (which is not even that far) still has to make new friends, learn new streets, figure out which stores carry which products, re-establish themselves professionally (unless they are commuters), etc.

Most of the challenge of making Aliyah is the challenge of MOVING and resettling, especially if kids are involved.

SuperRaizy said...

"Most of the challenge of making Aliyah is the challenge of MOVING and resettling, especially if kids are involved."-
That was not at all my experience. I made aliyah at age 28, with a husband and two children (my 3rd child was born 2 years later, in Israel). Yes, the logistics of packing and moving and resettling were daunting, but they were short-lived. The real difficulties lied in adjusting to a drastically different culture and environment; learning the language; trying to find a job in a place where my education, skills, and experience didn't seem to count; and making friends in a neighborhood were I was immediately deemed "the crazy American", all while working (eventually) and trying to take care of my home and family. For me (and for many other Americans) it was the klitah, not the aliyah itself, that proved to be the most overhelming.

Lion of Zion said...

" For me (and for many other Americans) it was the klitah, not the aliyah itself, that proved to be the most overhelming."

my impression is that as opposed to in the past, today many american olim tend more to live in places with large american communities, thus making the social/cultural (but not the economic and beauracratic) obstacles less daunting.

and absorption centers in general are a thing of the past for western olim.

RivkA with a capital A said...

No argument, the cultural gap is definitely MUCH larger when moving to another country.

For whatever reason, though I strongly identify as an American, the cultural element was not that big of a deal.

Socially, I made friends with other Anglo olim, so I felt very comfortable (even more comfortable than I had in chutz la'aretz, since there I was "the crazy Zionist"....)

The language thing did not bother me that much either, but I had a working Hebrew. Almost from the start, I worked in both Hebrew and English.

I did have a tough time finding my place professionally, but that did work itself out within the first year, and I do not think I would have had an easier time anywhere else other than in NY, where I already had established myself professionally (but this whole conversation is about moving AWAY from NY)

I did not have the element of worrying about home and family, as I was single. Any move is easier when you are single, kal vahomer Aliyah!

OneTiredEma said...

We are in the process of making aliyah right now (movers come in 3+ weeks), and I agree that it's an apple/orange comparison.

Among families I know, the people who are thinking about aliyah are thinking about it (for some time in the near or far future), and the people who are thinking about moving elsewhere (for more space, to be closer to family, etc.) have no intention of making aliyah for a million reasons. Saying to someone, "I see you're considering moving to Houston; how about Haifa instead?" would not be, in my opinion, an effective tactic at all.

The moving stuff is overwhelming and a pain and exhausting, but I am much more worried about klita. For myself; I expect the kids to be fully integrated by next summer (part of the reason we're going when they're 5 and 3 instead of older).

SuperRaizy said...

I think you're right about that. One of the things that made my klitah so much harder was that we were living in a small town that was 50% Russian immigrants and 50% Sephardic Israelis. I totally didn't fit in.
I'm really glad that it worked out for you, but I'm sure you'd agree that it doesn't work out well for everyone, and so we need to allow for that possibility as well.
(BTW, your blog name makes me want to cry. I just want to rush over to your house and watch your kids so that you could get some sleep already!)
I wish you and your family a very happy and successful aliyah/klitah. I hope that once you get settled, you will continue to blog from Israel so that we know how you are doing.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Never suggested asking someone moving to Houston to consider Haifa instead.

Just suggested that a big part of the challenge of Aliyah is connecting to moving in general, and not specifically to Israel.

At least, that's how it was for me.

Everyone has their own story to tell.....

SuperRaizy said...

Fair enough.