Keith Brooks
International Business Executive Living and Working in Israel

Aliyah, The Greatest Cult

If you think about it, Olim and making Aliyah, today, a hundred, or a thousand years ago, has always been engaging for a small percentage of people. A similar percentage of people join ISIS or become politicians or root for the Chicago Cubs. We are truly special people.

Hypothesis testing bell curve, the people on the end, join cults. Remember your statistics class? If not go read this, I will wait.

A study which randomly surveyed 1,000 San Francisco Bay Area high school students found that 3% of students reported that they were members of a cult group, while 54% reported at least one contact with a cult recruiter.

In this post, the author Kayla Teixeira stated:

Contrary to popular belief, people with higher education are more likely to join cults than those with less education.
In Lorne L. Dawson’s book The Sociology of New Religious Movements he writes about a concept called religious seekership which essentially refers to the action of a person seeking some religious/spiritual influence.

From the cults perspective, in regards to education, that in order for a cult “to be properly understood, the teachings demand literate intelligence, a willingness to study, and a lack of fear in the face of unfamiliar concepts and language”

And everyone’s parents will now buy Dawson’s book.

“Lack of fear in the face of unfamiliar concepts and language.”  That hits the mark quite well I think. New places, new faces, new language or not the one you learned at school plus there is the transliterated English to Hebrew words that make you scratch your head for a while.

The day schools, the Hillel houses, the Jewish Fraternities, the Zionistic religious camps, and non religious ones, contribute, in my view, equally to the people making Aliyah. And we need all of you, we still have tons of space and land to fill with families.

Whether you perch yourself on the hill top someplace or manage living in a comfortable city or a kibbutz, you are so special and unique, you find what you seek here in Israel. Jerusalem Syndrome people are also part of this, but what do you expect from the capital of the world? Even we have our fringe.

Our friends, our family, our coworkers when they find out we are making Aliyah act like we are moving to Mars and lost our minds. Everyone immediately asks about safety, because no one in the world ever gets randomly shot, taken hostage, shoots their fellow coworkers or brings guns to school to use on their classmates.

And you think we are crazy for living here?

If we were moving to New York from Chicago would our families act the same way towards us?

Would we to their attitude?

I have moved between countries 4 times, traveled extensively for work over the years, but never have had the same feeling as when I land here.

We represent the crazy, diehards, extremists that cleave to a vision, or religion, that makes us do some crazy stuff, right?

Do you hate rain? People here love when we get rain, like you can not imagine. It is almost like pagan worship, people dance int he streets, school children go out to play in it, all to bask in the truth of our prayers for rain. Like politics? We have some serious stuff for you too, in spades, by the dozen, every day. Want to run for Knesset? Go ahead, you have just as much chance as any one else, plus you are just crazy enough to do it, obviously, because you made Aliyah.

Eat Kosher and are very picky? Great we have 42 levels of kashrut for you or if you don’t care which hechsher as long as it has one, we got you covered too. We are open to all angles because we encourage you to join our cult, which is your cult, and is part of the oldest cult in the world.

Geek? Nerd? Techie? Entrepreneur? You people are in a cult within a cult, the uber-niche-cult, and we can help you here too. Venture Capitalists love Israeli companies, while startup life is not for everyone, you will find other like mind members here because you are no longer that lone crazy person, you have friends and they understand you and want to help you reach your potential.

You do not get a toaster for joining, you get an ID card, a temporary passport (this is how they separate the non-believers), a free one way ticket, some help getting setup or reduction in your expenses, and for those truly off the bell curve, you can go live up North or down South on plans designed to help complete our country domination coverage. (If you don’t like the verbiage, get your own blog!)

For each one of us that lives for the opening day of Krembo ( season, there are millions of people that just don’t understand. It is better than opening day of a sports season, because kids and adults alike can partake in it. And we do. And yes, candy, and chocolate, do entice people too.

The joy of finding the first artichoke of the season is something rarely experienced in the US. When worldwide food is shipped in so there is always filled groceries it makes it hard to express gratitude to Hashem in a way that truly relies on his benevolence. It is so easy to get what youw ant, like Manna, but so what if you cucumbers taste like water and your tomatoes have no flavor, right?

Smells and tastes are here to tantalize you beyond your wildest dreams, some not found anywhere else, and definitely not made with such amazing family heirloom secret recipes. We make it incredibly hard to turn away and say no, because we know the best way to you is through food. And fresh bread, all you people without Kosher bakeries, you have no idea what you are missing.

We don’t promise virgins, eternal life, or even peace and quiet to you when you join us. We do offer an all for one, one for all mentality that is much larger than you can imagine, and probably exactly what you have been missing all this time.

Lastly, for the record, we don’t encourage people to make Aliyah, they don’t listen to us anyway, so all of you that think we change people’s minds, we don’t, we can’t, it is something inside each of us and you cannot, and will not, understand until you are ready to let go of the other side.

This post was written for the anniversary of the day my family left the US for Israel.

1Zimbardo, P.0G., & Hartley, C.F. (1985). Cults go to high school: A theoretical and empirical analysis of the initial stage in the recruitment process.  Cultic Studies Journal, 2, 91-148.

About the Author
Keith Brooks made Aliyah in 2014 with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog. Keith writes about his Aliyah, Israel and Jewish life in general. Keith advises B2B companies on how to approach their potential clients regarding pricing, marketing and sales pitches. Keith is a MassChallenge Israel mentor and an IBM Champion. Keith is available to speak to your organization as well.
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