Encouraging Aliyah

One of my coping mechanisms is to listen to music. I love playing Jewish songs on YouTube and lip-syncing along. Sometimes I dance to it. One song I love is Avraham Fried’s “Yerushalayim SheBaLev.” I love watching the video too. However, I do find it a bit triggering because it reminds me that my family and I are not yet in Eretz Yisrael. Even those photos of Yerushalayim (or any photos of Eretz Yisrael) do not do justice to the incredible beauty. It gets into your bones and doesn’t let go.

Nowadays, what with the corona crisis, the rise in Anti-Semitism, and now the racial violence, there are more of those voices telling all Jews to “come Home.” But I don’t like this. Why? Because there are real issues with it that are not being addressed.

First of all, even if you’re young, healthy, and single, with no money or family or health issues, making Aliyah is NOT an easy thing to do. I still have to deal with all the moving difficulties plus bureaucracy. And that’s even if I’m just moving a few blocks away from my previous place. It’s even harder if I were moving from NY to Chicago or Los Angeles. But moving to Eretz Yisrael? Not only do I have the moving difficulties plus bureaucracy, but I have to deal with a different language, different culture, and different mindset.

Second, Eretz Yisrael is not some kind of utopia. It’s a different country with its own issues and its own problems. One of my friends who made Aliyah many years ago told me that “this country is INSANE in so many ways.” No, she has no intention of coming back here, but she acknowledges that you trade one set of problems for another set.

Third, when you have a family, making Aliyah is that much harder. Not only do I have to deal with the simpler things, such as the moving difficulties and bureaucracy, but it’s several times over. And I have the responsibilities that come with a family- I have to make sure that my family has a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Fourth, there are the added obstacles. Many of us do want to make Aliyah. But there are people like me and my family who have debts and very little money. Even without Nefesh B’Nefesh telling you that you need money, common sense dictates that we need to pay for moving expenses and have money on which to live until we have parnassah. There are people with serious health issues who can’t travel. There are people whose adult children can’t make Aliyah for whatever reason and who don’t want to leave their grandchildren behind. There are people who want to make Aliyah but who are held back by other obstacles. I admit that in this case, misery does love company- it helps to know that we’re not alone. But those obstacles are there and they’re not going anywhere.

There are those who say that they’re trying to keep Eretz Yisrael in the minds of people who don’t necessarily want to come. I hear that, but I still think that when you don’t address the issues, you’re not helping.

Then there are those who try to suggest solutions but those solutions are so simplistic that it’s brutally obvious that they don’t get it. Giving up that trip to Disney World can’t help us because we haven’t taken any kind of trip like that since 2003 (when we went to Eretz Yisrael). Selling our furniture? We’d be lucky if we got enough money to pay for plane tickets to Eretz Yisrael for all of us. And those aren’t cheap. I still remember getting two plane tickets in 2003 and using my credit card. The price was so high that my credit card company called me to verify the purchase to make sure it wasn’t fraudulent.

My family and I are not giving up on making Aliyah. Who knows? Maybe with the world turned upside-down, Hashem will get us there in ways we didn’t expect. But our money obstacles are there (and the coronacrisis has only made things more difficult) and there’s only so much we can do right now. Even Nachshon ben Amminadav could only go so far.

My request is this: before you preach Aliyah again, please keep these issues in mind and start brainstorming ways to get around them and to facilitate Aliyah. If you come up with real solutions, then you’ll really be able to encourage Aliyah.

My other request is this: before you preach Aliyah, take a few moments to thank Hashem for allowing you to have a successful Aliyah and remember that such a thing is a true brachah that must not be taken for granted.

I hope that one day, very soon, I’ll be able to watch that video of “Yerushalayim SheBaLev” and know that my family and I can see the real thing whenever we want.

About the Author
Meira E. Schneider-Atik is a wardrobe stylist, personal shopper, and writer/blogger. Her goal is to help women feel good about themselves and to dispel the myths about tzniut and dressing well. Her heart is in Eretz Yisrael, but for now, she and her family live in Queens, NY.
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