Relocating: Yerida, Leaving Israel, in the Age of Trump

Yerida? We’re “relocating.” Checking America out. Going to see what all the fuss is about. Is this forever? Permanent? Everyone asks immediately. We don’t think in those terms but I get the question. I moved to Israel forever once.

I recently announced to family and friends what my partner and I have long discussed, weighed and debated: moving to America.

I made aliyah 12.5 years ago and my partner was born here. Fluent Hebrew. We both have strong careers and we are a part of a tight-knit community. A thriving bilingual 2-year-old (tfu tfu tfu) and a day care we LOVE. So, why would we leave?

To live close to my people. We want to spend quality time, not just that rushed visit twice a year. But then, we have dear friends and family on both sides of the sea.

Exciting new professional opportunities- NGOs, universities, companies and PR firms — so much variety. The shopping. The congeniality. The live music. The beer. The shopping.

I am scared, though. To pick up and leave a great life for the unknown. Last time I lived in the US, I was 22, a kid. My best friend, my love, my child’s Abbi, who has never lived in the US is facing an immigration process in the Trump era. We are moving my son out of the only house and preschool he has ever known. I have to send my fur-baby puppy below the plane, at which point my toddler will begin to call his name, “Mojo!” every 5 seconds on repeat for the duration of the 12 hour flight… so yes, it is nerve wracking.

I don’t want to get all rose-colored, but I also don’t want to be bitter, because the reality is somewhere in between.There are things that I am fed up with in Israel, but there is so much I will miss. The smells and sounds of Shabbat, the way the vegetables taste, the music of the language. The fisticuffs at the post office and the nightly neighborhood Karaoke party, blasting the high note precisely at baby bed time? I won’t miss those things, but the cucumbers…

I know that I’m moving to Trump’s America and that is a scary, shameful shitshow. However, Bibi has been prime minister here for over 10 years and his government has been steadily descending into a paranoid, fascist state. So I have been #resistance for way more than 139 days. I helped write the manual for Jewish #resistance in Israel. I have been marching, speaking, lobbying and writing since day one here. I have been advocating for change in the face of a government that silences dissent and uses public disputes to distract while the socio-economic gaps in the country grow to untenable levels. Israel has starving Holocaust survivors, a refugee crisis with no relevant policies being implemented, an occupation and discriminated against, under-served racial minorities. And that’s just to name a few of our issues, so Trump doesn’t scare me anymore than my daily reality has for the last decade. In fact, late on US election day, when the results were in and Israel was just waking up, my dear partner in crime turned to me and said, “I think they’re going to need us.”

In the time that I have been in Israel, the cost of living has skyrocketed, along with the salaries of the Members of Knesset. I dreamed of living here in my youth and now in my adulthood, after working nonstop for all of these years, I can’t even dream of owning a home here — and I am not alone. The same is true for all Israelis my age, two-income families, who can’t afford to stay here without a large monetary gift from family and a crippling mortgage. Now I don’t know what is waiting for me in the US. None of us know how a Trump presidency will effect the economy, but his record does show an affinity for bankruptcy. We decided that we owe it to ourselves and our family to try to get ahead of the curve and we can’t do that from the sinking middle class of Israel.

In the absence of opportunities and inspirational national leadership (I’m looking at you PM Trudeau 😘 call me) and for the sake of my child, I choose my mom.

We may move back to Israel. We also might not. What I know for sure is that it will be an adventure.

I will be tweeting about this journey — so follow me @Shirapruce for gems on Israel, the US, feminism, fighting racism, mothering a toddler and the latest in pop culture fun.

About the Author
Shira Pruce is an activist and communications professional. After living in Israel for 13 years, she has recently moved back to New Jersey. She is former director of public relations for Women of the Wall, and has advanced the work of MASLAN- the Negev’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Support Center and the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, to name just a few. She received her BA in Women and Gender Studies at Douglass College, Rutgers University.