Monday, August 06, 2007

Vatikim

We are 12 days into a three-week visit to the Holy Land. Each time we come, I tend to notice a theme in the messages that make their way into my consciousness.

This time, I’m hearing a lot of weariness and disillusionment from vatikim (veteran immigrants). It’s true that I spend a lot of my time among people who are excited about Israel, excited about the prospect of making aliyah and living in the Land Gd set aside for the Jewish people. And I do whatever I can to encourage that line of thinking.

So it’s painful for me to hear how worn out, battle fatigued and cynical some vatikim are. They seem to have forgotten the sense of honor and privilege of being able to sustain their families in Israel. They seem to have lost their connection to the religious motivation that brought them to Israel in the first place.

Instead, they buzz on about how hard life is here and how naïve and starry-eyed olim chadashim (new immigrants) are.

I don’t blame them. Goodness knows, I respect what they have accomplished and pray to be among them in years to come.

But I hope I never lose my enthusiasm.

And it makes it even more important to increase the numbers of olim, not just for the sake of the olim themselves, although they are obviously the primary beneficiaries. But olim chadashim also breathe new energy into this country and, at least in potential, can reinvigorate those vatikim who seem to have forgotten why they came.

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