Tzvi Szajnbrum
To ease the immigration and absorption process for Olim

Immigration to Israel

What is a good immigration process? What is a bad immigration process?

I have finally realized the answer for these questions and the answer for both is that it doesn’t matter, and nobody cares, and this is the reason there has never been – nor can there be – a set one-size-fits-all “process” of immigration since the creation of Israel.

As soon as the new immigrant lands in Israel, he is on his own or at least this is how it used to be and many of you may be surprised when I tell you that this is how it should be.

Yes, help in the form of guidance and some initial support for a short period of time are needed and welcome, but if the country were to provide more than that, then we will become a nation of people who cannot function as productive, independent citizens.

Israel and the immigration history behind attitudes:

A few days ago, I was in a seminary when I heard someone complaining about the Israelis and the level of their acceptance of new immigrants. He was saying, “the Israelis forgot their parents and grandparents were new immigrants to Israel”.

What is the relevance of the above sentence or complaint? In my opinion, it is completely irrelevant.

New immigrants are coming to a land of Israelis where Hebrew is the national language and being rude is a national sport, therefore, get used to it and stop trying to educate the Israelis because they are what they are, and English is not the National language even if you find extremely difficult to learn Hebrew.

The new generation in Israel is made up of children of those who understood they had to be part of the existing society and this is exactly what they did resulting in a successful immigration. Israelis are the children of the successful stories.

 Aliyah should be a process but it’s not

A process should be planned and not be something spontaneous; a process should be elaborated after some serious studies are done; a process should be divided into different levels and steps; a process should have a plan A and a plan B for those who didn’t make it based on plan A and finally; a process should be based on analysis of past cases – and we have more than 70 years of experience and millions of cases we can and should analyze.

Analysis

Have you ever heard about national research being done regarding the successful cases of new immigrants? Of course not. One of the reasons for not having serious worldwide research conducted by any governmental agency in Israel is because nobody really cares to know the answers.

The other reason is that nobody is interested to learn why so many failed, why so many didn’t make it through the process and went back as a result of their failures.

We all love “success stories and happy endings”

The problem is that this is not the case and fairy tales are what they are, “fairy tales”.

There was never a national effort to conduct a study about those who didn’t make it and eventually returned to the country where they came from.

We are not interested to learn the reasons or maybe we don’t want to be blamed for other’s failures.

Preparation

Preparing oneself for a new life in Israel is no less than an impossible mission.

Despite all the background information a potential future new immigrant can find online or can receive from agencies, the given information will be always biased, mostly just partial, too many times wrong or not up to date but never based on any real study as I have written above.

Billions are being wasted

Billions from our taxpayers and donors are been wasted bringing people to Israel. Too many will go back because from day one they expect too much, or from the very beginning they didn’t have a chance.

It’s time we change our approach and accept the fact that being a Jew is not enough to succeed in Israel. More than luck is needed, more than dreaming and faith will be required to make it here.

Israelis are what they are and will not change to adapt for the new arrivals. Israelis are happy to see new immigrants arriving but not to see them returning home after so much money and effort was put into bringing them here.

Assisting or nurturing a new immigrant

There is a profound difference between assisting new immigrants after they arrive in Israel and nurturing them after their arrival. As hurtful, it can be, in the last few years we are just nurturing those new arrivals but not preparing them. Not before they come to Israel, nor after they arrive.

Information is not preparation enough, and Ulpan is not the way one will learn to speak Hebrew.

Information is a great and helpful tool but experience is a better one. Ulpan is a great start to learn the language but Hebrew will be learned only by speaking the language, walking among those who speak Hebrew, visiting the open market, the stores, listening to the news in Hebrew and mainly by wanting to learn Hebrew.

Creating enclaves in Israel

I am sure everybody misses “home” sometimes; misses something from the past, family, music, food, and friends, etc.

Longing for what we left behind while trying to create a new reality in Israel is not productive. By bringing the habits and cultures of our former home into small isolated enclaves in Israel, we achieve absolutely nothing positive. Instead, we create a la la land for a specific segment of new immigrants causing separation between them and the society they are supposed to be assimilating into.

The house of [old country]

One of the most painful sins to new immigrants is to provide them with the “house of” or the “house for” an exclusive group. Such as Beit Brasil, Maison de France, La casa del Argentino, etc.

These organizations (some are fictional) are only perpetuating the misery of those having a difficult time trying to adapt in Israel, creating more collateral damage than bringing real benefits to these new immigrants.

Why should one learn Hebrew if he finds a “perfect community” where everybody speaks his language? Why should I learn to navigate the system if there is always someone to take me here and there and help me? Why should I learn Hebrew if I have a local supermarket where so many from my home country are always around to help me do the shopping?

In short, the question is: Why should I integrate if someone provides me with the tools to separate and create my own tiny comfort zone – a country within a country?

Do you want to succeed?

If you want to succeed in Israel, it should be in Israel for what it is.

Do you want to change Israel?

You are more than welcome to suggest and help effect change in Israel after you have become a fully integrated citizen of Israeli society (e.g., don’t expect the Israelis who have the power to make changes, to listen to you in any language other than Hebrew).

A last but very important message – Make your own bed:

If you want to succeed in your Aliyah, don’t ever ring the bell – don’t give up. Confront the trouble – keep on going, don’t be afraid and don’t expect too much from others.

About the Author
Passionate about helping new immigrants, Tzvi Szajnbrum, Attorney at Law and Notary, founded the Voleh Organization, through which he and a team of volunteers provide “pro-bono” guidance to English speaking new immigrants, helping to ensure their successful integration into Israeli Society. As a former officer in the Israeli army, Tzvi is also able to help lead new immigrants in the right direction regarding the IDF. CEO of The Szajnbrum Group
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