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.