Tourists cool off at Tel Aviv beach.
(photo credit:Niv Elis)
If you asked me four years ago why I decided to make aliya, I would have said
that I wanted adventure. The suburbs of Toronto didn’t offer the same zest. If
you asked my mom, it was to find a husband, as she had done in the ’70s and my
grandmother in the ’30s. Whichever the reason, I am happy to say I was
successful at both. I stood atop Mount Hermon, I floated in the Dead Sea and I
wed on the shores of the Mediterranean.
By all indicators, I have had a
successful aliya. I have created a happy and healthy Jewish home within Israel’s
borders. Despite this, I am sad to say that I will be packing the two pieces of
luggage with which I arrived and moving back to Canada this winter with my
Israel offers olim immediate access to a country that holds
diverse terrains, religious affiliations, culinary delicacies and cultural
attractions that amount to a unique experience you can’t find anywhere else on
the globe. I have examined my Tel Aviv life in a long-time effort to decide if I
should stay or go. However, no matter how I dice it, the State of Israel does
not offer me a secure future.
It would seem that Israel’s strong economy
has something to offer an eager native English speaker. The Internet is
overflowing with job postings for content writers, social media experts, SEO
editors and web managers. For someone looking to support a lifestyle of beaches,
bars, restaurants and tzimmerim (holiday cottages), Israel offers a wage that
can support it and an urban playground that caters to it.
On top of that,
the Israeli job market enables English speakers to reap a piece of the hi-tech
pie so often lauded by international media and Israelis themselves. The
multi-million dollar exit strategies of many an Israeli start-up create the
impression that Israel is the new frontier for a Zionist-inclined Anglo. There
is no doubt that English is regularly heard throughout the streets and office
buildings of the stock exchange, Airport City and Ramat Hachayal.
yet, once an Anglo has gotten their foot in the door by reason of their mother
tongue, where is there to go? English may run the content and marketing
departments, but business and negotiations are conducted in Hebrew. There’s a
glass ceiling that Americans, Canadians and Brits will inevitably hit. I work
half in Hebrew and half in English, but there are few upper rungs for me to
climb. My employers hired me for my English, not my ambition.
an Anglo to do once they’ve hit their English plateau? The options are either to
jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon, find the same job at a slightly higher
wage or go home. Israel can offer an abundance of jobs, but few
Aside from the career options, the disparity between the cost of
living and the monthly salary is vast. Whatever language you speak, everyone can
agree that Israel is an expensive place to live.
And 400,000 people said
so in the summer of 2011 when Tel Aviv’s streets filled with peaceful protestors
looking to tip the scales in their favor. Not much happened, except for a recent
increase in taxes.
For my husband and I, up until now it was livable. We
had enough money to pay the rent, stock the fridge and sit with our friends a
couple of nights a week over drinks.
But now as we think about our future
and try to match our dreams to our paychecks, we realize it cannot be
No matter if we scrimped and saved, moved to the suburbs, locked
ourselves in a one bedroom with only rice and beans, we would not be able to
save enough money to afford a family home by the age of 40.
young couples I know in Israel who own houses are those who received assistance
from their families.
And it’s nice if you can get it, but I moved to
Israel to be independent. I only see financial dependence in my future if I stay
If I want the security of a home, I have no option but to uproot my
life again and move back to Canada. It may not have the same zest for life as
Tel Aviv. It may be colder, quieter and less lively, but it will adequately
support my next adventure: a family life.
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