When you make aliya, you make friends — almost instantly. While you are finding the lay of the land, so are they. If you’re lucky to have friends that made aliya before you, they might guide you through choosing medical insurance, or tell you why their bank will screw you less than their friend’s bank.
If you’re lucky to be in an ulpan or merkaz klita (absorption center), these friends will look out for you; when they make plans for a night on the town, or a Shabbat meal, they will think of you too.
These new friends become like family. These are the people that call you when they dehydrate on the bus and want company at Terem (Urgent Care). These are the people with whom you pack boxes the night before you move out of your apartment, or the people you help clean up after someone breaks into theirs.
The bond, for many, is like glue.
So what happens when family move away?
No one really likes to talk about it.
I couldn’t find yeridah stats but hearsay once told me 30% of our Ulpan would be gone within a year. Fast-forward and that number increases. Yeridah is part of our society and yet just like sex, religion or politics, tempers can flare quickly, and Facebook can often be fuel to the fire.
There’s no one reason that people make aliya. Sure, there’s an underlying current of Zionism, but the military, love, jobs, escapism and study are all legitimate reasons too.
Similarly, there’s no one reason people make yeridah.
It’s not because the “land spits you out as it does to people who can not make it”. It’s not because yordim want a front-row-seat when “history repeats itself”. It’s not because they are self-hating Jews. People that leave Israel may still believe in aliya as a value or an ideal. Yeridah is a choice. For some, a difficult choice, that they make for themselves.
Your zip code doesn’t allow you to pass judgement on mine. Even if we are family.
If you are committed to a life in Israel, that is awesome. It really is. I respect your choice. I admire that choice. In some ways I am jealous of your desire to make it work, because to live in Israel, you really have to want it. Every day.
No one likes to talk about this because that familial bond stays true when you move away. The passion tells me that you want yordim to see life in Israel the way you do – and that’s admirable, but when you talk about sex at the dinner table, some people stick around. Others walk away.