Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Aliyah from the US a no-brainer? Think, and think again!

Yes, Israel is home, the nation-state of the Jewish people. But it’s not a surreal ideal place. If you come here, blinded by your new love, you’re bound to leave very bitterly. And that doesn’t need to happen like that.

You need to come here open-eyed. Like every place, living in Israel has its ups and downs. The Sages tell us that acquiring (living in) Israel (like Heaven) takes hardship. On top of that, Israel is a very intense place.

I get it why US aliyah skyrockets. The new wave of racism and anti-Semitism. The government that let half a million Americans die for no reason. The lack of national solidarity and financial insecurity.

But when you come here, you’ll learn that the US was not even as ideal as you always thought. That is difficult because you still miss it. The Sunday. The ease to understand the news, the language. The familiar foods, songs, culture. Here, everything is different if not upside-down.

Here you will need to wake up to reality and deal with being a foreigner in your own country. It takes time and much effort to make new friends and integrate. But there is more. You need to thoroughly say goodbye to your old life while you’re still there, against getting homesick. Your comfort, everything familiar, memory lane, people, places, seasons.

If you said farewell well enough and are ready to fight for a new and good existence, you’ll have a great life here. You’ll never look back. But don’t just pack up and leave, assuming the Land will take care of you.

Yes, there is much social security here, but there is also endless red tape before you get what you need. Yes, people are generally good-hearted here, but they’re often also under-slept, overworked, overburdened, and impatient. They may lack room for formalities and courteousness. It’s more real, less fake, more honest, but can be a rude awakening too.

There is no gun violence here and little bank robbery. If a man makes a woman feel as much as uncomfortable, he’s already done a sex crime. But many people cut corners, don’t keep commitments (I forgot?), or even lie to your face — it’s the Middle East, remember? It’s nice to miss Christmas but for the anti-religious, the Jewish Holidays are in their face.

There is racism but much less. Many Jews have offspring marrying Jews of different ethnicity. Most Israelis are not so uptight about who’s a Jew and who’s a Muslim, as long as they don’t intermarry. Especially in healthcare, Jews and Muslims work (or are sick) side-by-side. Empathy with Gay people is high but there is no marriage equality (yet).

Boredom is a rare commodity here, reserved for jobs and army duty. Everything’s always in flux. Rules change while you study them. (Nobody knows them anyway.) Just when you thought you knew Israel, you meet a different era, area, or community where everything is different.

You’ll have less time, less money, less comfort. But, meanwhile, the best meaningful life. You’ll find like-minded people everywhere — and people who disagree with you 24/7. You will have lots to love and laugh about — and cry about. Entitlement works differently here (it mostly doesn’t). But Shabbat is nowhere sweeter. Seeing the Jewish People fully coming alive in front of your eyes is something you will never take for granted.

In every group, place, community, you’ll find amazing and horrible people. In Hebrew: Yesh veyesh. And some amazing people can be horrible on certain subjects, and vice versa.

Israel has crime, prostitution, hatred, stupidity, social injustice, etc. We have sexism and racism and classism, and abuse of the elderly. Some awareness may be better here (sexism, racism, corona), while on other subjects, it could be less (environment). Yet, pockets of ignorance you could find everywhere, and many people think in stereotypes and don’t even know it. Heaven and perfection are not of this world. But, when you know all that and have said adieu to the country that claimed to be yours for so long, then, do come and live here happily ever after.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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