‘How Do I Make it as An Oleh?’
Many people ask me questions. Will I make it in Israel? Hard to answer. Will you make it? No. That is the answer.
Understand that you are an immigrant and you will make it as an immigrant. You will not make it as a functional member of a society. You will be a doctor’s assistant, but you can throw away your MD or doctorate. You moved to a new country and you have an excuse to not be the best. Enjoy the fact that you will always sound disabled. No matter how smart you are, or how many Nobel Prizes you have earned, you have a disability. There is no such thing as Oleh-capable.
This is all positive. I am not complaining.
Other questions I answered in my advice columns were. ‘Dear David, My child is smarter than me. What should I do?’ In that case, you take them out of school. I do not care if you are an immigrant or not. You have to always keep your child dumber than you. If that means vacations, then let it be.
Even though you send your children to school to see them as little as possible, you do not want to have to answer questions.
My advice column ran for a couple of years, until all the publications I wrote for stopped producing. My articles helped many publications go out of business, and they also helped many people with their first steps in the Aliyah process, making it easier for them to understand their new life and acclimate.
That specific column was written to help families. I do not have kids of my own, which makes me unbiased, and thus correct when giving advice to parents.
It is about acceptance. Like any addict, you must first accept that you have a problem. Accept that you gave up life in America and a job that pays, which would have set you up with a beautiful home.
It is all positive and I love Israel. It is a different kind of good. The kind of good that people think is bad.
Nobody is going to help you with your Aliyah. You are in Israel. Now it is your problem. They like the concept of Aliyah, they don’t like Olim. Until you become an Oleh, you are royalty, important. The Israeli people love you. Then you move to Israel and you realize that Israelis don’t like Israelis. Kind of like the kiruv organizations (organizations whose goal is to bring Jews closer to practicing Jewish law and learning the Torah), who always have a place for non-religious people to eat and sleep on Shabbat. Then you become religious and they can’t stand the fact that you are a different kind of religious. You are already in the fold, so they don’t smile at you anymore. They don’t have to lie to you anymore. You have to provide yourself with your own Shabbat sustenance. You are in, and you know what it is like already; no reason to fake like being religious is a good thing anymore. They have you, you have left your parents behind, you have changed and denounced their way of life, and you are now stuck knowing that if you give up, everybody will start talking about how you gave up.
You don’t move to Israel or become religious because it is fun, you do it because of your relationship with Gd and your people. It might not be fun now, but you have a good after-life. After you die, it is a ball. It is like being in a relationship. Once it becomes intimate, you stop hearing that they love you. But the fact that you brought children into this world and were a committed spouse who could never hang with your friends anymore, scores you points in heaven. Your life is not what you dreamed of, but you are doing good with Gd.
Aliyah is real and they say it is like a family. Once you are in, they stop with the pleasantries. They tell you how you are getting heavy and you have to stop eating so much falafel. They tell you that you are waisting your life. They tell you to get a better job, which would mean going back to America. If you lose your job, they give you money and you become the annoying member of the family. Like family, no matter how badly you are treated, they are still your siblings, even though you don’t speak their language.
That whole thing about the people you do ulpan with being like family is true, if your family were people you didn’t see your first 20 years of your life. They are like family, if family were people you never saw again after ulpan. They are like family, if family were people who did not speak your language and had different last names. They are like family, if family were people that were not of the same religion as you.
People try to glorify Israel when they first tell you about it. Then you make Aliyah and they ask you ‘why the hell did you do that?’ That is your first lesson in Aliyah, your first lesson in being a fryer (an annoying word- look at the Aliyah Dictionary). Your first lesson is that the people who told you to move are telling you that you made a mistake.
The Jewish Agency and Nefesh BNefesh (NBN) made you think it would be so good. But Israelis live in Israel. It is a different culture, and you have to get used to it. NBN took you on a real nice Aliyah flight. It was with Americans; a culture you are used to. The members of the Knesset that said ‘Hello’ to you, want you to vote for them. You made the mistake of not moving to Yad Binyamin, Chashmonaim or Efrat. Now you have to deal with your new Oleh experience of the culture clash. I am still trying to find my way in the new culture. I have yet to have bought clothes in Israel. I have not reached that level of acclimation and acculturation yet. I still have a hard time trying to figure out why the right size doesn’t fit me.
May I say? I will. The biggest issue with the moving to the Middle East is the win-lose value (the ‘Don’t be a fryer’ value). The win-win North American value does not exist in the Middle East. You cannot feel good unless the other person is losing something. That is the one clash that is hard for me, as a human, to accept.
The fryer concept has got to end. You will have to deal with it as an immigrant, but I cannot and will not get used to the Middle Eastern attitude and concept of somebody always having to lose. That is a concept that we should be saving for tourists and newer immigrants.
I have been in Israel for over ten years since my Aliyah, you can get ahead without taking advantage of me. We should be taking advantage of newer immigrants together. I thought it would change, as time passed and I became more Israeli in my smell. But somebody always has to lose.
You don’t have to not give me French-fries on my falafel, in order to gain. If your gain is me never coming back to your falafel shop, then you have won. If your gain is me not enjoying my falafel, then you have won. If your gain is having a customer and somebody who will smile when you say hello, then you have not acclimated into the society. And I do want my french-fries; that is why I have learned to take them without asking. If you don’t interact with the employees and do not look at them, you can do whatever you want. I now take my own falafel and walk out. That is me winning. The lined up salads, are all free Gever! You might not give the pitas for free, but I just bring my own pita and fill it with the carrot salad stuff.
Another concept of being a fryer is that people will not say ‘thank you.’ I took my friend to the hospital. We got there and he said, ‘Yah’alla.’ That is not a show of appreciation. It was as if he shooed me away. It made sense; I already took him to the hospital and he didn’t need me anymore.
I understand that it is my fault. I expected the ‘thank you’ and a ‘thank you’ is a sign of weakness in the Middle East; thus making you the fryer. ‘Thank you? Thank me for allowing you to take me to the hospital!’ I had the wrong attitude.
I was shocked by the behavior and said ‘thank you’ to him. Somebody had to say ‘thank you,’ so I did. That is what seems to happen most of the time. I end up saying ‘thank you,’ because a favor deserves a appreciation. So, I end up doing favors and then thanking them for helping them. I find it rude and not correct.
I was told that when people don’t show appreciation, it is because they are shy. No! It is because they are jerks. Selfish as hell and don’t appreciate what other people do for them. They are insecure, power hungry people who have nothing to offer. Yes, I am angry. They are the people we work with. Shy??? He was not very shy when he needed me to take him to the hospital. He spoke up when he broke his leg.
Do not expect a ‘thank you.’ As the oleh, you are in the middle of a long hazing process, to join the fraternity known as Israel Delta Sigma Beta Pi. The only difference with this fraternity is that most other frats don’t make you go to war or use missiles and gas masks as part of the hazing process.
Not every Israeli is like this. Some understand that you can work together to screw over somebody else. Some understand that if you are going to need a favor in the future, you have to say ‘thank you.’ Some work off the ‘Yasher Koyach’ or ‘Kol Hakkavod.’ This means, ‘all the honor.’ As if to say, ‘Way to go bucko. You did a good job.’ This still keeps you on top of the other person. Kind of like a father figure who never did anything for you.
They say that you need to do the army to integrate. I do quote they, as they knows what they are talking about.
However, I do not have the patients to do the Israeli army, and I do not like to be woken up. So here are some guide-lines for not being a Fryer and not doing the army. Because, the number one fryer in Israel is the person who is ripping me off, not saying ‘thank you’ and doing the army.
Before I get to that, let me preface with another paragraph or two.
My parents gave me a book when I decided on Aliyah ‘Coming Home: A Practical Guide for Making Aliyah.’ I got the message. I was over 25 and they wanted me out of the house. They gave me a book from the mid ’70s (for people reading this in 2214, this means 1970ce). It was also supposed to be used as a practical guide for moving to Israel. It was 896 pages. That is not practical. Nor is that helpful for people like me; the book also had no pictures.
They were even playing with the minds of the Olim in the ‘70s. They always wanted to make it hard. They changed the rights by the time my parents finished the book. My rights for a new car ran out before I read about it. That is why I am here helping you, with David’s practical guide for beating the system.