Welcome to the first edition of our new Jerusalem Post aliya project: Café Oleh!
Each week you''ll hear from our resident aliya and Judaism bloggers about their experiences, their hardships, and the gratifications of moving to Israel.
Why did you decide to move to Israel?
"ET phone home." In all seriousness, my family is Jewish, Israel is the Jewish homeland - we wanted to go home.
My husband and I met because of Israel. I was a madricha on a teen Israel program he coordinated. Pretty much since the summer we fell in love, we daydreamed about our little Israeli children running around naked on a kibbutz. It took us ten years to make that dream come true.
The short story is I met an Israeli soldier on Birthright with whom I wanted to pursue a relationship. The longer story is that I also was moved being in Israel and knew I needed to come back. I was up for a change in my life and I knew if I didn''t go then, I''d regret it for the rest of my life.
I came to Israel originally to study in a post-high school program for religious women. After realizing midrasha life is not for me, I spent most of my time exploring Israel and reading Hebrew novels and poetry. Even though they were confusing at times, I came to love the native culture and language and decided I wanted them to be permanent features in my life.
What has been the hardest challenge in making the move?
Hardest for me on a personal level is being an involved and mindful mother in a country where I know nothing. It took me eight years to become an "expert mom" and a 12 hour plane ride to revert back to "day one."
The hardest challenge for me since making aliya has been shedding the "immigrant" mentality. I still catch myself starting sentences with, "Israelis always say..." or "Israelis are so..." I sincerely believe that my klita, or absorption, into Israeli society will be more successful if I can truly begin to see myself as an Israeli and not an outsider.
What''s the one thing you miss most from abroad?
I wish I could have poofed all of my friends and all of my family here instantly. However, mitzvot are for individuals. I hope more friends and family come home soon.
My friends. Without a doubt. And Trader Joes.
Whole Foods Market.
What would you say is the biggest difference between life in Israel and life abroad?
We dwell here. There, we are transients.
Israelis tend to make choices that are inspired more by the short term than the long term. Israelis act (and react) from the "now" whereas Americans tend to always be living in the future.
I''m not sure it''s the biggest difference, but it''s been difficult getting used to the Israeli idea of "polite conversation." Israelis never fail to ask embarrassing questions, like for example, "How much weight have you lost?" when meeting you for the first time in a while.
Many of you, since making aliya have written blogs about "Jukim" or cockroaches, why the sudden intrigue?
Well, they are a part of life here, so you will run into them (or they will run into you) eventually.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new or potential oleh what would it be?
Trust in Hashem. These days, unlike any other period of history, the in-gathering is taking place quickly, is impacting large numbers of Jews, and is involving Yids from all known and all hidden communities of the globe. It has always been correct to come home. Today, it is that much more so.
Read my blog. Okay, it sounds self serving, but the truth is, if I had spent some time reading the blog of an oleh mother before I came to Israel, I might have made better choices in advance of making aliya. In particular, I wouldn''t have sold all my sweaters at my yard sale and would have stocked up at Target on birthday presents for my kids and their friends for the next five years.
Move here if it makes sense on a financial level and if you can like Israel for what it is rather than what it is supposed to be. If you can live with these answers, then you''ll be all right. Otherwise, Israel might disappoint you very quickly.
Never take "no" for an answer from an Israeli bureaucrat. "No" means "maybe," and "maybe" means "yes." Just keep pushing until you get what you want.