Jul 28, 2010

Asking Tough Questions!

Last night Tuvia had an anecdote to share about one of his coworkers, who is from India: She said that she'd rather be broke, living in a 300-square-foot apartment with her entire family (which she did) than be here. I'm guessing she was happy there, among her people, her culture, her life. This is a sentiment that I completely get. I wake up most days thinking "What would my day be like if I were waking up in Israel?" I count the days until I go back (late November, this year, baruch HaShem), and I plot in my mind my career path for if when I make aliyah. So I have a question for you all.

Would you rather be living seriously on the cheap in Israel 
or 
wealthy and/or comfortable in the United States (or your respective country, the U.K. or Canada or Australia or wherever)? 

I have to follow this up by saying that anyone, I mean ANYONE, can make it work, no matter where they are. I'm a hard worker with a lot of irritating medical crud, but I don't let it stand in the way of success and happiness. I remember the hard days my family had with basically zero dollars and financial support, and I remember having to borrow money from friends to help pay my rent because my credit cards were maxed out. I got a job I hated, but I paid off ALL of my credit card debt, which was really hard to do. It can be done. I've had my highs, my lows, and I know that I can survive on nothing and everything.

14 comments:

Leah Sarah said...

If it were simply a matter of wealth, I'd love to live in Israel. I grew up very poor(not 7 people in a 300 sq foot apartment poor, but pretty darn poor). The wealth to me is not enough of a draw to stay in galus -- family is. My family and my FH's family are entirely in America. Not a single member of his entire extended(meaning aunts/uncles and cousins) family have made aliyah, and he is incredibly close to all of them. To move to Israel would mean we would rarely be able to see them. Not only that, but my family(just an older brother and my mom) is not religious, and, frankly, they are terrified of the thought of coming to Israel. It doesn't matter how much I convince them that it's safe, they only know what they see on the news, which is NOT a fair representation. So, unfortunately, because of this we will remain in galus until something changes...

You can absolutely make it work in terms of money. If you are passionate enough about something, you can always make it work. A lot of things are much cheaper in Israel compared to America(a lot of things are more expensive, too. I assume I don't even need to mention gasoline?). It's probably a totally different way of living 'on the cheap' than in America, but totally doable.

Shira said...

I think the question is much more complicated than what you asked. For many young couples, who have children already, it becomes a whole nother set of questions. Its easy for someone who is young, single, or newly married - well, not easy, but I can imagine it is doable. But take a family like mine - two young children, me with a degree that does not lead to a career, and a strong desire to homeschool my children, my husband with a good job that brings a small income, but not much potential without more schooling, all of my family living in the same city. In Israel, maternity leave is dismal. We are too old to take the free education benefits. We would have no family there to help us, and we wouldn't afford to even visit our family on any regular basis. Sure is possible to make it work... but I've encountered families who tried, and had to move back because of the difficulties. Its not always doable.

Daniel Saunders said...

I've been thinking about making aliyah quite a bit recently. For me, the money doesn't even come into it. On the pro side is the idea of fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Israel, being part of the first fully autonomous Jewish society in two thousand years and being able to find more Jews my age with my religious outlook (Modern Orthodoxy is pretty moribund in the UK). Against that is the security issue and the language - I'm training as a librarian, and that means I have to be really fluent (or at least literate) to do my job. Family is also an issue, although less so for various reasons I won't go into here. As Shira says, everyone has there own set of problems, unique to where they are in life.

David Tzohar said...

I grew up in a comfortable suburb of Philadelphia. The summer after I graduated highschool I made Aliya and never looked back.For 20 years I lived on a Moshav shitufi in the Golan heights and for the last ten years I have been learning in a Kollel in Rechovot. I have never paid income tax because I have never had any taxable income. I did manage to raise a family of 6 children (now 11 grandchildren bli ayin ha ra) I came to the conclusion a long time ago that financial security is a state of mind. If you have bitachon ba Shem you will always feel secure. My advice to you is if you are really serious about aliya, dont put it off. The older you are and if there are children it becomes harder and harder. But its worth it to become part of the greatest story in Jewish history,the story of the return of our People by the grace of Hashem to Eretz Yisrael after 2000 years of exile/

Elianah-Sharon said...

I feel like I am at a point in my life where...now is the time if I am going to do it, and deep inside me, I have a Golda thing. I want to be a pioneer, I want to influence the dream, I want to BE part of the dream. I want to make it happen. I am finishing my MS in management, where I'll either have to take a new job or stay where I am and be disgruntled forever because there's no advancement...and since it's a pseudo federal/state job, just wait until funding runs out and then what? As it is, I am relatively young (I look it anyway) and at a crossroads. So why wait another 5-7 years for the money to run out and then go? Why not do it now? I have almost NOTHING in my 401k thanks to W...so I am not adverse to liquidating and using that as my nest egg to start out. I figure with an MS (and Anth has one in social work), we'll be pretty cool job wise. I don't even care to be "wealthy". We never have been. Living as we have with the heart issue always over our heads it's always been a carpe diem kind of life and that's just how I feel about it. When I thought I had cancer yesterday...I thought I do don't want to get to a point where its impossible and I regret it. I don't do regret. I can scratch out a living anywhere. I can write. I can babysit. I can clean houses. Whatever. I could do that here and regret never getting the chance to be where I REALLY want to be. Or I could do it there and be thrilled I defied gravity :)

Chaviva said...

To all: I think it's interesting that you all mention that money isn't really a factor. When I talk about this with most people, the MONEY is the first thing that comes to people's minds. Hrm. Interesting. I must think on this!

@LeahSarah My own hubby used to have a fear of the violence. It was his number one issue with the possibility of me even MENTIONING it. Then it was the language issue. Then the cost. After going back in December, after he hadn't been there since his bar mitzvah, he was BLOWN away. We walked around at 2 a.m., feeling completely calm and safe. I feel safer in Israel than I ever did walking home in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska (one of the country's safest cities) in college. I don't know what it is, but there's a peace. Convincing people, however, is another thing. You just have to go, then you'll realize how misleading the news is.

@Shira I know a lot of couples that moved back because they were having kids and wanted their family's help. I guess I'm the kind of person who doesn't fear not being able to drop my kids at their grandparent's or aunt's/uncle's place. We have family in Israel on Tuvia's side -- cousins near Jerusalem and his uncle/aunt/cousins all in Ramat Shlomo (but even they are considering making it a part-time residence after having lived there for the past 10+ or so years).

@Daniel My husband fears the language thing, to an extent you wouldn't believe. The amazing thing is that there are so many English speakers in Israel, there are entire communities that are pretty much English-only because they're full of Anglos and olim.

@DavidTzohar May we ALL be as blessed as you!

@ElianahSharon I'm so jealous you guys have a plan already ... dates. Plans. I have a dream, only a dream.

Dr. Eviatar said...

OK, I have a different perspective. My dad made aliyah in 1949, married my sabra mom, and I grew up mostly in Israel although partly in the US as my dad did his Ph.D. there. I grew up surrounded by cousins, went to the army, the whole nine yards. I moved to Europe for love at the age of 20 and things moved on from there, I've never lived there since although I have been back countless times. My siblings all live there, I have been living without family since 1982. I have three kids who see their saba (my mom died in 2003), cousins and other family members maybe once or twice a year if we are lucky. I am very happy living in Canada and have no desire to return to the stress and craziness of Israel.

I wish much luck and success to those who desire to live there. I don't ;-), especially now that it has become so much more radicalised than in my youth.

Sophia said...

Israel. To me it's not really such a tough question, since I'm really unhappy right now, even though financially everything's good. I just feel I don't fit in, and at times it's so incredibly frustrating. I so want to go to Israel.

Meira Cochava said...

I would rather be living cheaply in Israel. G-d willing I'm making aliyah in the fall--however, I'm a year out of high school, so thank G-d i have the flexibility to do that. To me, my fears are the language barrier and not making connections, in addition to scary political situations and the heartbreak that comes from seeing the schism between secular and religious Jews in their homeland (which I think is overhyped, but which still exists).

The reasons I am, b'ezrat Hashem, making aliyah? Because...how could I NOT live in the Jewish homeland that so many fought and died for? Also, I think we all know the call of Israel. It's...Israel. Simply--and exquisitely-- that. We desire it, we long for it--therefore, I prioritized and realized I wanted to live with Judaism as the source of every part of my life--not as full on the weekends, but put on the back burner during the week at work.

It's not a dream. It's a drive within all of us, a journey that is shaped with its roadblocks and unique openings. We should be blessed to all live in the land, soon soon soon!

aml said...

You're forgetting about the army? That's a huge factor. You want your husband sent off to Gaza for a month every year? You want your sons and daughters fighting and dying? Its a major sacrifice.

I'll skip telling you my long and drawn out story, but I know quite a number of people of live there quite comfortably. You can't tell me that living in American suburbia, paying gross (large and yuck) amounts of money for a mortgage, spending thousands of dollars a month in day school tuition, and so on and so on is any more "economical" than "toughing it" in Israel.

the rabbi's wife said...

We have been very content living a sort of Kollel lifestyle in Israel. I actually think it would be much harder to live poor in America where there is soooo much commercialization of, well, everything. Here I see maybe one iPhone a week on the streets, in the US, people can't seem to live with out them, and iPods, and Cable TV, and a whole host of other things. Poor is a way of life here that works. You just have to adjust your values some. How big does your house REALLY need to be? Do you REALLY need a car? etc. etc....When You visit in November, I'd love to show you around J'lem if you'll be in the area.

Leah Sarah said...

@Chaviva -- Yeah, I know my mom would LOVE Israel. A kibbutz would be like her ideal place ever. She's a hippy at heart and a very spiritual(but not religious Jewishly) person. I know she'd love it and feel safe while there, but I don't think I could get her to go unfortunately.

@aml -- I know some people make aliyah after a certain age because it makes them exempt from serving in the army. I also know a handful of people who intentionally made aliyah before that age so they COULD serve in the army. A lot of people have a huge sense of pride for serving in the IDF, despite the risk involved. Look at Michael Levine.

Suburban Sweetheart said...

I guess you know my answer. ;)

But more importantly, what is YOUR answer?

aml said...

@Leah Sarah- my husband served five years. After we married, he was called into Gaza for reserves. We left- because of that and a plethora, PLETHORA of other reasons.

There's great pride. And a great sense of reality when everyone you know knows someone who died- someone's son or daughter who died- someone's father who died.

I respect all those who choose to fight (for the USA and our allies), but for a variety of reasons it isn't much of a choice in Israel. I was pointing out that failure to consider the mandatory army service of your husband or, later, your children, is alarming.

This is and should be a major factor in deciding whether or not you want to live there. Not the only factor, by any stretch of the imagination, but a major factor. Its not all about money. In fact, we lived there quite comfortably as do many, many of our friends now.

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