Friday, December 17, 2010

The Truth

Last night, I had occasion to consider moving back to America.  It doesn't matter why.  Even the casual consideration of it made me shake.

We had a nice life in America.  There's no doubt about it.  But it horrifies me to think that I might someday be forced to return.  Even though I really do miss David Chu's kosher Chinese restaurant.

Here's a truth about life in Israel five months in.

It's often scary, but not for the reason you might assume.

The language is a big part of the fear.  Even with a full-time ulpan and unarguable progress, I'm still far from being conversational in everyday situations.  I often have to rely on my husband or daughter for translation assistance.

I look at job announcements, and even though I'm willing to work far below my previous level of achievement, it seems that almost every job I might consider requires a higher level of Hebrew fluency than I have, and that I might ever have.  That's scary.

Even though I have been driving for close to 40 years, I still don't feel comfortable driving in Jerusalem.

I can't find basic, everyday products in the grocery store without help.

I don't really understand how my bills are calculated here.  I for sure don't know how to read, let alone balance, my bank statement.

I can't make small talk with people at the bus stop.  I don't always understand what cashiers at the grocery store are asking me.  My standard response to every question people ask me on the street is, "I'm a new immigrant.  I don't know anything."  At least I can say that in Hebrew.

I often feel very vulnerable here - economically, certainly, but also culturally, though that's mitigated by my tendency to spend most of my time with other English speakers.  Every time I step out of my home, I am reminded that there are ordinary, adult things I just don't know how to do in this new country of mine.

That's not the only thing I feel.  But that's the truth.

But to think of going back? Going back to live in someone else's country where I felt misunderstood for so many years?  Not having the privilege of waking every day in the Land I truly believe is the only future of the Jewish people?  Turning my back on one of the major gifts Hashem gave the Jewish people? Retreating to the galut?

Nope. Not happening.  May Hashem save me from such a fate.

7 comments:

Batya said...

We made aliya very young. I never considered going back, but I had nothing much in terms of acomplishments to look back on.
I look at the olim from Russia who in the shortest time have made great successes.
We anglos demand from ourselves a perfection which is unreachable.

The fastest way to learn Hebrew is to insist on speaking it, mistakes and all.

Fayge said...

Hang in there. It will get better.

You will never be an Israeli but eventually you will be an "Olah Vatika" - a "Veteran Immigrant"

Barbara R. said...

You have been here 5 months and I have been here almost 5 years so let me respond to some of your concerns from my perspective.

I have never had a language problem that was insurmountable...by-standers help me or one of the grandkids if they are handy or lots of times it isn't important enough to worry about!!

Maybe you are not supposed to work in the Hebrew speaking market...didya think of that??

No one in their right mind is comfortable driving in J'lem!!


I had a bank situation yesterday and the lady helping me dialed the phone, told me what to say, and we got it taken care of with the end result that I now know another great thing about the bank we use!! All in English!!

Lots of things having to do with business and health I will not do in anything but English. My money and my health are too important to mess with in another language.

DavidJoeF1 said...

I came from South Africa to live in Israel, then back to SA and then to the US.

Fifteen years later I am returning to Israel.

I am used to immigrating and the best advice I can offer is to accept and be proud of who you are and what you have done.

It is easy to be someone born and raised in a country, but it always requires a strong mind to be an immigrant.

Speak your new Hebrew with confidence and make mistakes which together with humor will help all situations to give you the advantage.

Fayge said that you will never be an Israeli - what exactly is an Israel? Was it not immigrants that came from far away who worked and recreated Medinat Israel in Eretz Israel?

Was Moses not from Egypt? Was Ben Gurion not from Russia? Was Jabotinsky, Begin, Meir and Weizmann not immigrants too?

As an Oleh and now a official Israeli, you are every bit an Israeli and perhaps, just perhaps you are a new Israeli with something many Sabras no longer have - a belief and conviction in the the existence of Israel.

FeistyFrummy said...

Hi Bat Aliyah! So I have a somewhat serious question to ask you. I know that it's ultimately my decision but I was wondering if you could shed some light on the subject. My parents have just made aliyah and I've been in Israel for the past two years learning. The first year I wasn't even slightly interested in making aliyah however the second year changed everything and I was convinced Israel was the only place for me. I am now in college in America where everything is easy again but as of this moment, I have come back to visit my parents for vacation... but I just can't picture myself living here anymore. I know it sounds like I just got all caught up in the comforts of American society but I don't know. I guess what I'm searching for is some chizuk. Got any to spare?

Anonymous said...

I am making Aliya within 18 months. I am 54 years old excited and scared all at once! Is 54 too old? I am an RN and know that to be one in Israel is a long hard process and much more schooling which by the time I would finish I could retire! Is it POSSIBLE to make a living without living in a hostel? : ) Is it possible to reurn once a year for 3 months to work in the US? anyone have any idea?

bataliyah said...

Dear Anonymous,

I have heard that it IS difficult for many US-trained nurses to make the transition, primarily because of the need to pass a Hebrew language test. If you speak Hebrew, it will obviously be much easier. But many people, especially mid-career people, retrain or make a lateral move (in your case, to something else in health care that may not be so language intensive) rather than work in their exact former fields.

Of course it's possible, and people do it successfully every day. That doesn't mean it's effortless though.

Yes, I do know a highly trained nurse who lives here but works in the US several times a year. If you contact me at rivkah30 at gmail dot com I'll give you more info.