Sir, – Having read “Why I (already) made aliya” (Comment & Features, August
19), I am reminded of comments made by friends who remained in South
When I announced in 1977 that I had agreed with my husband to
make aliya despite the known problems this involved, they told me I was crazy.
Several years later, when we were faced with numerous terrorist attacks, they
told me I was very brave. Then, after the introduction of democracy in South
Africa, which was accompanied by a great increase of violent crime, they
informed me that I was very lucky.
Three views on the merits of
Sir, – Leah Bieler’s jocose “Why I (still)
haven’t made aliya” (Comment & Features, August 15) sadly prompts a
We have Ziploc bags here and better items than Trader
We have a few “crisp, snow-covered winter mornings” without
closing down daily activities.
Our religious lives are not exercises in
cognitive dissonance. We are proud of all those who have the privilege and
ability to serve in the Israel Defense Force.
We have nice hotel rooms
and all kinds of equipment for babies, the elderly, the handicapped and more. We
have a plethora of pluralistic schools, institutions, colleges, hospitals,
clinics, camps and universities.
Strenuous efforts are made to prevent
violence and intimidation as much as possible.
Values brought from
elsewhere are given due consideration in our multi-cultural and evolving civil
society. Mature parents guide their children toward independence while never
holding them as “possessions.”
Leaving a Diaspora birthplace to return to
our marvelous homeland is more satisfying than mere words can describe. Since
our l968 arrival with five children we now have 83 core family members. I hope
for the Bielers’ similar success.ESTER ZEITLIN
Sir, – If I had
known 50 years ago that there were no Ziploc bags to be had in Israel, I might
have reconsidered making aliya.
Life without Ziploc bags! Unthinkable!
Despite this deprivation, though, life in the only Jewish independent state in
the world has more than compensated for this inconvenience. Leah Bieler’s
objection is as mature and convincing as that of the American girl who justifies
not making aliya by saying it is impossible to wear high heels in Jerusalem
because of the cobblestones.
After many similar reasons we get to the
truth: She has four children and she doesn’t want them to serve in the IDF. She
would rather other people (those aggressive, unruly Israelis) spend “many years
with our hearts stuck perpetually in our throats,” as we and countless others
have done, leaving the natives to keep the country safe for her next
Sir, – I recently relocated to Israel not
by choice, but by a decision determined by circumstances.
As a born and
bred British citizen, I have never felt the need to defend our religious
lifestyle as I now do in Israel. The unrelenting haredi-bashing has no limits.
The media hype over the cost of maintaining these “leeches” is totally untrue
when all the figures are stacked up and compared to the educational costs of
So why make aliya when the tax incentives are being
eroded day by day, when the bureaucracy is mind-boggling, and when the standards
of accountability expected in the West are not to be found here? There’s also
the endless verbal abuse and intimidation endured by my 12-yearold son, while
the general level of courtesy among people here does not compare favorably with
what we came to expect abroad.
Israelis are not prepared to do menial
jobs, and some have to resort to illegally employing foreigners at an exorbitant
rate. So how are working families able to run their homes when salaries are half
the cost of domestic help? I did not come to spend my days doing sponga or
standing in court for employing an illegal cleaner.
So for the moment, if
we have to be here we shall make sure to keep leaving the country before our
three months are up, keep my earnings taxed in England and keep my other
schoolgirl and home in Britain so that “my center of life” remains there while
my physical being, for now, is here.SUE FREED
London The writer
describes herself as a ‘distressed potential olah’
Sir, – Every few months, for
some reason, the Post publishes a piece from armchair Zionists, usually from the
US, who explain with excruciating chutzpah why they cannot make aliya. It is
usually because they value their children so much that they cannot bear to send
them to the army.
This implies that we who have made aliya do not care as
much about our children.
We who do “get it” are busy building a country.
I ask that Leah Bieler not crowd the local newspaper with sanctimonious gab
about how much more precious and well behaved her kids are. Israel, the IDF and
our bully children and grandchildren will be here for all of them, not if the
need arises, but when.ELI SCHMELL
Sir, – Leah Bieler describes
the fear that her children will be too tense to learn in Israeli schools, in
which children can behave boorishly and even violently toward one another. She
bases this fear on incidents her children experienced in summer camp here, and
the picture she paints is one in which Israeli children are either bullies or
I would like to share a true story: In a classroom in Jerusalem,
an angry seven-year-old shouted at a classmate: “Tomorrow my father will come to
school and beat you up!” The classmate answered: “Then my father will come to
school and he’ll calm your father down.”
The girl’s father happened to be
a community mental health worker.
The yiddishe kop has enabled the Jewish
people to withstand bullies the world over, and it can prevail here as
well.NANETTE RUTH SHEFTMAN
Sir, – As an Anglo Saxon oleh of many
years I am still unable to absorb and defend the aggressive and arrogant Middle
Eastern culture and mentality here. To me the words civility, courtesy, service,
trust, discipline, competence and transparency have a different meaning than
they do to an Israeli.
In view of the details Leah Bieler expresses in
her article, my advice to her from my own bitter experiences is that when in
doubt, do nothing. The wrong decision in making aliya without doing the
necessary homework can be disastrous and lead to lifelong regret.JACK
Sir, – I, my husband and our two young children made aliya from
Windsor, Connecticut, 42 years ago. We have never for one minute regretted our
decision to live in Israel.
I believe that Leah Bieler would not have
followed Moses out of Egypt, nor would she have been among those who were with
Joshua as he led the people into the promised land.
Nor would she have
boarded the Mayflower to travel to the New World, which she is now so afraid to
Aliya is not for everyone, and especially not for Bieler. There
will always be an excuse to remain an outsider, a visitor in our beautiful land.
It’s not the schools, the bad behavior of the children and adults, the lack of
material goods, the climate or whatever. Israel is Israel.
others have come and others will come. Maybe her children will come, and maybe
not. Israel may not be her dream-come-true, but we are not a dream. We are a