Tzvi Szajnbrum
To ease the immigration and absorption process for Olim

The Pain of the Immigration Process I

Why is there Nothing Holier than a Broken Heart?

Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk used to say:

“There is nothing more whole than a broken heart”

How is a broken heart connected to Aliyah at all?

During the years, I have met hundreds of new immigrants from the most successful ones, through to those who had to leave reluctantly, to those who happily left, leaving behind nothing positive, not taking with them even good memories.

Those who left with a broken heart after trying so hard are those people which we as a society have missed somehow. Those are the people that if helped at the right moment by the right people could have made the change in their lives. Sometimes all these people need is a little push but unfortunately we are so busy with ourselves we have forgotten how to give and how to share with others.

Blaming society or even the system is not fair and we have to have a realistic and balanced approach. We have to remember the assimilation process into the Israeli society demands a lot from both sides. It is time to change the approach and I suggest a much more “honest and sincere approach” towards those coming to Israel as new immigrants.

I am aware it might sound very unpopular and even condescending but the truth is “something is not right”. Too many good people come to Israel with dreams just to leave with a broken heart after living a nightmare.

As Israelis, do we have a share in these people’s failure? I believe we do; as I believe we have caused irreversible damage by telling these people what they want to hear but not what they should have heard and need to hear.

If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix”

Rav Nachman of Breslov

Can we change the system and prevent to some extent at least more new immigrants leaving Israel because they couldn’t cope with the Israeli reality? Again, I believe we can and should.

I suggest transparency and truth as a preventive medicine

I believe we should change the tactics used today. The Israeli government, Nefesh B’Nefesh, The Jewish Agency, The Ministry of Absorption and every other organization dealing with Aliyah have one main clear goal: To bring new immigrants to Israel – as many as possible, sometimes almost at “any cost”.

Yes, we do want to bring as many new immigrants as possible, but we want to bring them after we tell them the truth, after we show them the real Israel (the beauty and the ugly), after we warn them there is no garden of roses.

Instead we must tell them as our sages taught us “Eretz Yisrael is only acquired through pain and suffering”

Language: Before arriving in Israel, one should know language is not a privilege but an utmost necessity — either you master the language or you will have an extremely hard time finding a job, understanding the very basic day-to-day tasks, dealing with banks and mainly dealing with the Israeli bureaucracy.

Finances: Our obligation towards those coming to live in Israel is not to provide them with a cozy or comfortable life. Not even to provide anything except some help and assistance as we already do in many areas such as free healthcare, almost free education and dwelling subsidies for the first months.

Education: We have a lot to learn from others in this aspect, but we are in complete denial for so many years. Too many people in the Education system truly believe “we know better”, “we are doing great”, etc.  It is a pity because we are not doing well and nothing is getting better, but the message we are sending is the message from those in the system: “come to Israel, integrate and learn from us because we know better”.

There is no need to tell lies or even give the wrong impression. We need to tell them the opposite: “We need your input, your opinion, your experience and your suggestions. Today we can offer very little. We can offer overpopulated classrooms, schools in poor conditions, zero discipline, very little personal security among the students, too much free time, too many vacations and sometimes not even good teachers.

It is time to stop being afraid and market Israel for what it really is: The only Jewish homeland we have and not a paradise (not yet).

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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