Uri Pilichowski
Author, Educator and Father - Brother to All

Three Easy Steps to Ruin Your Guests’ Trip to Israel

[Warning: this is my first foray into comedic writing, please excuse any and all lines that fell short and especially those that offend]

With the holiday season upon us, many of us are hosting or getting together with friends from the alta heim. While we want our precious guests to love Eretz Yisrael so much that they do the right thing and move here, we also want them to hate their trip so much that they move here. Huh?

We made tremendous sacrifices to move to Israel. We gave up Netflix (for those of us without a VPN), Target, and Starbucks, and our guests still have them. They should suffer for their privilege and we should be the ones to inflict the pain. Here are three easy ways to inflict so much trauma that we’re bound to make sure our guests completely understand our Herculean sacrifices in our Aliya and also decide to never come back to Israel.

By repeatedly mentioning these three facts (of course these are facts) we’ll achieve our goals.

#1) Tell your guests how wrong it is to live outside of Israel.
#2) Tell your guests how hard it is to be a good Jew outside of Israel.
#3) Tell your guests that they NEED to move to Israel right away.

While you repeat these three cardinal rules, accentuate your points by quoting assimilation rates. If you don’t know the exact figures, simply make them up. Anything above 65% will sound genuinely scary enough. With tremendous confidence, gusto and in a loud, shrill voice state that the only guaranteed way to ensure their children marry Jewish and they won’t have a gentile grandchild is if they move to Israel by the end of the year.

For your “religious” guests (I mean how religious could they really be if they don’t live in Israel?) make sure to make sure to mention the Ramban’s comment that mitzvos performed outside of Israel are only for practice and their good deeds only count if they are performed in Israel. With no hint that the topic is really a debate among our Rishonim, state that one of the 613 mitzvos is to live in Israel, and in fact is the most important of all the mitzvos.

At least once on your guests’ trip, but the more the merrier, throw in the Medrash that if they die and are buried outside of Israel, their bones will have to roll through tunnels during techiyas hamiesim to get to Israel (if they even are resurrected, after all if you don’t live in Israel, are you even righteous enough to make it?) If your guests answer that they’ve already bought Karka and will be buried in Israel and not have to worry about “tunnel syndrome,” make sure to tell them that there are cemeteries full of Jews who thought they’d make Aliya standing up.

If you go out to one of Israel’s amazing restaurants, talk about how everything here is Kosher, and make sure to harp on the impossible American tuition rates for day school and rising healthcare costs.

There are also things that we don’t need to mention.
DON’T mention lower Israeli salaries.
NEVER mention your own challenging experiences in adjusting to life in Israel.
Whatever you do DO NOT mention all the things you miss from home, I mean not home, but that place we used to live.
You want to paint a picture so unrealistically perfect that anyone listening has trouble applying your fantasy experiences to their own life.

Can we speak as friends now? Obviously the above was meant to be humorous (I hope it was), but here are some serious thoughts for all of us new Olim to consider.

None of us moved to Israel right away. It might be difficult for us to remember, but we were once the people who dreamed of living in Israel but couldn’t see how we were going to do it. We felt that we belonged in Israel, but enjoyed the ease of English everywhere, lines that were patiently waited on and delicious Starbucks coffee. It took plenty of time for each of our thoughts to evolve until we made the big move. Most importantly none of us would’ve been motivated by an Aliyah snob laying on the guilt.

We are instructed by our Sages to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Talking as if there is no other choice but to live in Israel is not only disingenuous, but highly insensitive. If we are to treat others the way we want to be treated, we need to think back to how we felt before we made Aliyah. We need to talk with kindness and lend support.

Allow me to offer some educational tips from an educator. First off, if you’re not a teacher, and you’re not in a classroom, and the people sitting in front of you aren’t your students, don’t teach them. If these are your guests, talk to them as guests.

Never pressure someone to do something you think is good for them. In fact, if a study was conducted of stubborn people, I’m sure it would say that people’s refusal to do something is in direct relation to the built up resentment created by being pressured to do that exact thing.

Talk about how good life in Israel is and why you love it so much, but don’t encourage them to move. Talk about why you like it, not why they’d like it. Most importantly, let them ask questions, don’t make suggestions.

In this way, you’ll keep your friends, and they might fall in love with Israel, just as we all did.

About the Author
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator. As a teacher, author and speaker, he teaches Torah and Politics, where he specifically emphasizes rational thought and conceptual analysis.