Paying It Forward To Keep Olim in Israel

Ever since the first Aliyah from Egypt led by Moshe Rabbeinu (the first Nefesh B’Nefesh volunteer), making Aliyah has quite often been met with skepticism and high expectations. Even though shrouded in a protective cloud and supplied with miraculous food from on high, there’s always been one or two people (not accurate numbers) who haven’t been quite satisfied with their new surroundings.

Life isn’t always easy here in Israel. Finding work can be challenging to say the least. And finding a job that can actually cover your total monthly expenses can be, at times, rather elusive.  I remember before making Aliyah it would be unheard of to attend an interview without knowing the salary being offered for the job. But here, the candidate is casually asked “what’s your salary expectations?” and is immediately lunged into a game of hi-lo with an unknown number of other potential candidates competing for the same job.

Finding a good, affordable but yet comfortable, place to live also has its moments. Another of my experiences was seeing mold suddenly appear on the walls and ceiling of the bathroom in an apartment I had already lived in for approximately six months. When I called the landlord to complain I was shocked to find out that I was to blame for not opening the windows in the winter to ‘give the room an airing’. Who would have guessed, coming from London, that apartments were built without the same type of internal ventilation as properties in England. It was all new to me.

Then, there’s the language. After 17 years people sometimes ask me if I speak Hebrew. The answer is yes, but my British accent is still so harsh that I sound like I just stepped out of Kita Alef ulpan. It will never change and there will always be words that I hear in conversations that I have no idea of their translated meaning. But such is life.

Life here isn’t always easy. I’ve been here so long now that I don’t even have elsewhere to benchmark against.

And then I look at my kids. My four wonderful, amazing, beautiful kids – all born here in Israel – and all of the reasons I came to live here come rushing back to me.

There are day to day miracles that happen which are so easily forgotten, but their impact is so large. I remember back to a couple of weeks after I made Aliyah, and was living on Rehov Aza in Jerusalem. That section of the road was always a ferocious road to cross and the nearest pedestrian crossing from the apartment was at least 300 meters away in either direction. One day, as I prepared to cross the road, a child aged around six or seven walked up to me and said “kvish”. I had no idea at the time that this was the word for road. He then slipped his tiny hand into mine and pointed to the other side of the road. I held his hand and guided him across the road. As we reached the other side, he looked at me, smiled from ear to ear and said ‘toda’. A single solitary tear rolled down my cheek. The trust of an innocent child symbolized my Aliya.

When we come here we are, at times, like helpless children. We have to trust the people around us. Choosing those people is another challenge among all of the others.

Paying it forward is the way to go. In 17 years I have never seen the amount of help and advice given by strangers as I have recently witnessed on social media. There are a number of groups where Olim have the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers from people who are more experienced in those matters.

But there is one group which surpasses this in the help which it offers to Olim in its ongoing mission to ‘Keep Olim in Israel’. The group which is run by Liami Lawrence and Tzvika Graiver never ceases to amaze me on a daily basis. Their contribution to society is priceless. Long may it continue to help, assist and ‘Keep Olim in Israel’.

About the Author
By day, Michael takes photographs of anything and everything including Bar Mitzvahs, Bat Mitzvahs, Family Portraits, Wedding, Britot and Events. By night, self proclaimed connoisseur of good whiskey and writer for pleasure and kicks.
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