It’s that time of year again. The time when people start to make plans for the summer and for the chagim. Oh, not people in Israel – way too early for that here! But in recent weeks a few people have contacted me to say they may be coming in the summer to Israel, or for the chagim.It’s also that time where people considering making aliya start to make their plans. The number of people who email me because they read my blog always surprises me. Random strangers who Googled and came across my musings. It’s cool, but a little scary just how much faith they put in me and my thoughts.
I’m very blunt and very honest. I tell it like it is. I don’t colour things pretty and I don’t pretend aliya is a bed or roses, nor that it’s a smooth ride.
To save some people the trouble of emailing me, only to be disappointed, here’s my thoughts for today on making aliya.
- Don’t expect anything. The higher your expectations, the more likely you are to be miserable.
- Remember you’re moving to Israel, which means you no longer live in the country you currently live in. This may sound obvious, but so many olim constantly compare Israel to their country of origin.
- Everything is different here.
- If you want to make this move, you have to be willing to make the move.
- Everything works differently here.
- Many things cost more here.
- You’ll likely have a smaller living space here.
- You’ll probably have a smaller (but more expensive) car here.
- You’ll probably make less money here (unless you’re commuting for work, in which case you may bring home more money at the end of the year, but you won’t be spending much time actually living here).
- The school system is different here.
- Everything is different here.
- Decide why you want to make aliya.
- If it’s because Israel is the Jewish homeland and therefore we should all move here, come on over, we’ll help you get settled
- If it’s because you want lower tuition, stay where you are and put your kids in public school, hire a Judaics teacher (or teach them yourselves), but don’t make aliya.
- Make sure everyone is on board – at least your spouse. If you are coming with kids under the age of 10, just get them excited about it. If your kids are older than 10 you have a lot of work to do before you arrive, and you will have even more to do once you get here.
- If possible, hire an Israeli to speak Hebrew with your kids (and with you) a few times a week. Having conversational Hebrew when they arrive will be a massive help.
- Hire a tutor to get them advanced on their reading & writing skills in Hebrew. Even if they are currently in a day school, they will not be even remotely close to where they need to be for text books in Hebrew.
- Have them watch Israeli kids’ TV on YouTube.
- Research research research! Don’t move to a place because you know people there, but you have no idea about the type of community it is. Move to a place that is within your comfort zone financially, religiously and socially. Even if you know no one. Keep in mind however, that it’s not advisable to move somewhere with no Anglos – it’s not necessarily the best way to integrate.
If you have a job that you can bring with you, DO IT. If you have any way at all to get a position before you move here, take it. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s an opening, and once you arrive, finding something else will be easier. If you need to take 5 months to do ulpan, make sure that you can afford that 5 months of no income, and remember that there may not be ulpan in your city, you may have to travel to get there – another question for your list of things to ask when visiting places on a pilot trip.
I am always happy to get emails from people who have read my blog. I try my best to answer questions honestly. I think everyone Jewish should make aliya, but I also understand that living in Israel is not for everyone.