Sunday, May 13, 2012

Empty Pockets



I received this anonymous comment on my post Paying the Price about compromising in the material world to receive spiritual benefits of life in Israel. It's such a powerful comment that I wanted to let it stand on its own. Please read it and then I'll say more about it afterwards.
I think I must have been totally naive to come here 5 years ago. I brought my family because of my religious zealotry. We have no family here and no rich relatives in the states to call when we need help. My family has literally starved , begged in the shuk, and we get frequent calls from the bank telling us we need to make more money. I have cleaned houses for the last 3 years. We have not been able to provide properly for our family. And my daughters school has threatened to take us to the bet din because we can't pay her school bill. No, education is not free it's 250 shek a month each kid. When hubby makes 40 shek an hour it's impossible. Gan is higher, Yes I know its cheaper than what we paid in the states but food is at least 2000 a month and rent is around 4000. Not any left over when you make 7000 a month. If you are well off, then come. If not ask yourself some hard questions. We are headed back to the u.s. as soon as we can get the airfare. We love the land but the system is harder than hard. There are no food stamps here no way can you go back to college here. No student loans. My husband made 50,000 in the states. Here, the companies don't pay sometimes for 3 months. Can you afford that? We will never be able to afford a car, much less a home. I have to ask myself do I want to be renting and taking buses in my old age? The NBN money only lasts about a year. Your cashed in 401 k the next year. If Momma's not helping you and you don't speak Ivrit you won't be able to work the system. If you are fired, there is no unemployment for 6 months. Can you survive that long? It's not fun to have your phone and internet cut off, to have to borrow to keep the electricity on. To have the landlord call cause the check bounced. Imagine all of this while the rabbi's tell you to daven harder and have more emuna. We gave one organization 250 a month while living in the states. When we needed money for Pesach that same organization couldn't help us becuse my husband works and isn't in kollel. The peole pushing for Aliyah on their blogs are rich! You have never been poor till you are poor here. Oleh Beware! I used to give Tzedekah now I have to take it. Not for long, Yeah I want to go back, I can help others there I can't even help my kids here. Please people stop criticizing those who can't come. I have no more pride. Hashem has broken me. You can all say I am a loser but my sorry tale is true. I never wanted any handouts, just an opportunity to live in the land. I am not sorry I came. Just regret I stayed too long.
Let me start by saying that my deepest reaction is to feel sad that this woman and her family tried so hard and couldn't make it here. I have heard, we have all heard, of families and individuals who have made aliyah more than once because they just weren't successful the first time for whatever reason. It's often financial, but it's sometimes due to family dynamics and the needs of a child or one of the adult partners. It's not at all unheard of.

I have no idea why Hashem helps some people be successful in their aliyah and others have to struggle so. I know lots of American olim and the majority, the vast majority, are reasonably successful, meaning they are able to put food on the table and live a respectable lifestyle, not constantly dashing creditors and begging in the shuk. Sadly, that wasn't this woman's experience. I believe every word she wrote, that it really was that hard and she really is that desperate. I have no idea why Hashem is testing her family in such a dramatic way.

However, I would emphasize that her experience, tragic though it is (and it is), is far from typical. There are people who fail at every human endeavor. Should we not send our children to school because some kids drop out before graduating? Should we not attempt to train for a marathon because some people's marathon hopes are dashed long before the finish line? Should we not reach for a big goal because others have failed to achieve it?

She's bitter. That's utterly understandable. Who could read her pained words and not feel a deep sense of compassion? May Hashem bless this family with adequate parnassa, restore their dignity and help them return to the Land successfully when the time is right.

In the meantime, will I stop advocating aliyah, stop urging Jews to answer Hashem's call, stop making American Jews uncomfortable enough to question their motives for staying in chutz l'aretz at this time in Jewish history, because sometimes it doesn't work out?

Not on your life.


27 comments:

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yael said...

Please let your readers know that what happened to that family is rare and that it is doable. We made aliyah with 10,000 dollars, 9 boxes, no lift, didn't know one person in Israel, from lower middle class families in the US, no help from back home for many reasons, my husband is not college educated, neither one of us knew Hebrew, NO Nefesh B'Nefesh, no money basket from the government, absolutely NO PLAN as to where to live or how to make a living. We literally made Aliyah on "A wing and a Prayer." We took every opportunity that was offered us, every job no matter how bad the pay or working conditions, every loan or grant offer us, every opportunity to pay in payments, every extension to our overdraft that was offered. Yes, we had bounced checks and electricity turned off. We took gemach loans and anything else to figure our way out. We DOVE into Hebrew even speaking it in the home at one point. I am so proud to say that we own a house, we have jobs (not high paying, but enough) no car in our future, and still a small overdraft that I don't when we will pay off. We went from nothing to everything we ever wanted without realizing it was what we wanted. It is doable. Going back was never an option no matter how broke we were and at one point our overdraft was 40,000 sheks!! I sure hope no one gets discourage. You just have to be flexible and believe in the dream and see the big picture.

Anonymous said...
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Tzemer Upishtim said...

I came here with 8,000 dollars in debt and the nefesh b'nefesh money. My husband took the first job that came his way . There are jobs that work american hours. I work one of those.Truthfully, I want to teach myself hebrew and start my own business as well. We bought our home by borrowing from Gemachim and a drop of loans from family. We worked super hard and did without in order to make it. I still do. Yes sometimes it is scary but there is something about being here that you just work on faith . Life isn't easy in both countries. There might be food stamps in America but if you are even 10 dollars over their limit you will not get it. I tried to get it while I was there and could not get it for just being 10 dollars over. In America there was a time where I was lucky to have a piggy bank that had 65 dollars in it or else we would not have had food that week!
This woman might be hurt but she also has to take a good look in her decisions.

Anonymous said...

Obviously this is a very sad story, just as stories of agunot are, but does that mean that no-one should get married?

Living in Israel is a privilege, and parnasa in Eretz Yisrael is truly a nes. No-one can judge another person, or claim that their aliya worked out because they had a better plan or a better attitude. Rather, the attitude should be there but for the grace of Gd go I. Ultimately, it's all min shamayim. I made aliya without a plan, and B"D have been blessed, although there have definitely been challenges. Sometimes, the only thing that kept me going were shiurim and books by Rav Brody and Rav Arush. Bat Aliyah, if you can maybe suggest them to her. One of the things that I am grateful for is that the problems that I have are in Eretz Yisrael and not somewhere else.

Again, I feel truly sorry for this lady. I don't think that people should be judging her. If your own aliya is working out, you should be thanking Hashem every single day. I hope that things turn around for her in Eretz Yisrael.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add that she should be proud of herself that at least she tried, really tried, and that she was true to her beliefs.

It is also very important that in her pain she doesn't go around trying to put off other people from making aliya.

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Batya said...

The Russian olim should train the Americans to succeed. We anglos just don't know how to skimp the way they do.
I've been here over 40 years, and I'm sure we would have had a tougher time in the states.

Anonymous said...
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Truth About Aliyah said...
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Anonymous said...
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Joel said...

To the last anonymous, very well said! Everything is Mazel.

Bat Aliyah said...

I deleted a number of comments to this post because they made me uncomfortable. There was a lot of good content in some of the comments, but there was also unkindness toward others and, since I don't have the ability to edit comments, I had to delete them in their entirety.

Anonymous said...

This story actually points to a huge failing in Israel - the lack of a government run welfare system. On the one hand Israel is considered a "successful" country because it lacks a welfare system. I was recently at a forum where we discussed many of the "social issues" in Israel - housing, labor, healthcare, education, and more. I pointed out that there is no welfare system here. I could not even find statistics to indicate the number of truly homeless in Israel. Israel boasts a lower UE rate (6.8%)than that of the US. But I know that my married daughter and her husband at times called me to tell me they had no money and needed food. I contacted numerous charitable organizations in Israel BEGGING them to help my kids. Nada, zip, zilch, kloom, nothing. Some of those organizations had benefitted from monthly contributions that I and my husband had made (to the tune of $360 per month, each) and I could get NO help for my kids. One person did arrange for them to receive ONE food basket -- but most of the food they received was rotten produce and packaged stuff beyond the expiration date! Why do people think it is okay to give such food to poor people? It was disgusting and a real let down. They did recieve a one time financial assitance -- when it was Pesach, for a small finite amount. But the rest of the year, they could starve. Part of the reason I made aliyah when I did was because I could not support two separate households. The plan was for us to share one household and in that way I would be helping them. Thus far that has worked out but it too is not without its problems.

Anonymous said...

I think that one of the comments you deleted was mine. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I am 100% sure that nothing was said mean spiritedly. There is nothing unkind about saying that ultimately everything is min shamayim, including all our failures, disappointments and losses. I'm saying this as someone who has been through all of these, and still is. Even though it is very hard, the only way through the challenging times is emuna. This is a spiritual fact. However, this is not a judgement on this lady or anyone else. We all have times when we feel we can't take it anymore.

It has occurred to me that NBN/Misrad Haklita should have a service for people who are considering leaving Israel after making aliya. Obviously someone already here is highly motivated, and the country has already invested in them. Maybe there is help available to them that they are not aware of.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to read one tragic story and assume it represents the whole.

The USA FTC have a rule about testimonials that if you are going to give a case study for a product or service you must then state the average result.

The reason for this is so results are not distorted in the eyes of the reader.

Jews don't give up on the land. In some cases yes people are faced with no choice but to leave and I really feel for the poor lady who was reduced to begging. My heart is with her and her husband.

BUT.. I know many of my friends and myself included who came to Israel with very little and Hashem blessed us with parnassa.

One of my friends came here not knowing a word of Hebrew and is now one of the biggest caterers in the country.

2 of my friends started an IT biz and are now millionaires.

The biggest tikkun the GRA says we have in this generation is correcting the sin of the Spies and also of the Second Temple which are both the same sin - Lashon Hara and specifically Lashon Hara against living in the land.

Just because a person has a bad experience does not mean they should put everyone else off or that because one could not make it no one else will

Israel and no other land in the world is our Land - its not just a a country but a gift given to us by Hashem. We need to respect that.

Imagine how many lives would have been saved in the Holocaust if so many so called leaders of Israel had not repeated the sin of their ancestors in the second temple telling the masses not to return to Israel, when they could.

History tells the tragic tale of 2,000 years of holocaust type suffering because we lost our land.

In those days of Babylnian Talmudic times Baruch Ben Nerya told everyone not to come back. The leaders said Hashem could not possibly tell us to come back through and anti semitic leader like Koresh. They used that as their excuse not to come home.

The rest of the story is sad tragic history

Ironic how history repeated itself. How many people died in the holocaust because of the Jewish leaders turning their back on our precious land.

Brothers and sisters its not long before the banking system of Europe goes completely under with the USA following. Read the signs its in front of our faces.

Its not long before they blame Ben Shalom Benrnanke and the other Jews who run the federal reserve bank for the economic recession that's looming over America. We have history to let us know what we can sadly expect in huge anti semitism to rise from that, as the all the Jews get blamed for the actions of the few.

Within the next few years 1 in 3 children born in Europe will be Muslim. The head of state in Germany stood up and said Germany will soon be a Muslim state governed by Shaarya law.

We dont need to be PHDs to realize what a huge muslim population means for our children. The attacks are increasing exponentially against Jews.

If we dont return to the land of our own accord we may be sadly forced to.

Hitler taught us that we cannot run away from our Judaism we either embrace it with love or it embraces us like a marriage partner who has been cheated on and wants justice.

Jews we are one and our people are one. We must stick to together and love eachother. Give to each other, be there for eachtoher and live together in our gift from Hashem the land he created for us.

Wake up and read the signs before its too late. Put your trust in Hashem not in America, or Europe.

In the UK they just removed disability benefits from millions of people because the govt cant afford it anymore.

It's not true that there are no charities in Israel supporting non kollel people.

I know because I was supported by generous charities during one tough period here in Israel.

Israel has one of the strongest economies in the world. Today the internet means you can work with any country in the world.

Ultimately the bracha of parnassa is all from Hashem. 100%.

Come to the land while the doors are still open.

Devash said...

PART I

I'd like to respond to the person whose comment was featured here. I hesitate to offer advice, but a few things come to mind which may help.
First of all, your comment indicates that you view yourself as the driving force behind your family's aliyah and no doubt you bear a lot of guilt over your family's suffering, feeling yourself to be responsible for it. I know, because I find myself in that situation frequently. But, you know, it's not true. It's a ploy the yetzer hara uses to weaken our resolve.

In fact, in this world, we are only playing out the decisions which were made before we were even born; when we were still in the spiritual realm where we understood what our souls needed to make their final tikunim.

You and your family members agreed to return to this world as a family unit in order to facilitate each others tikun and everything you have been through until now has been accomplishing that goal.

There is no denying that this has been a terribly painful process. I have some idea, having been through many similar experiences in my sixteen years in Eretz Yisrael. I've lost count of how many times I've walked the streets with tears flowing freely, sometimes on the verge of hysteria, crying "Why? Why? Why?" and pleading with Hashem, "It's too much, too much. I can't bear any mnore!" But, somehow, I continue to make it day to day. I'm already nearing retirement age. I have no mate to share the burdens. As things stand today, I will never again drive a car or own a home. I'm preparing yet again to move to a cheaper place as every year or two my rent is raised higher than I can go. I can't help my children or even buy them occasional presents. So, you can see that I sympathize with you greatly.

Devash said...

But, when my mind is filled with these kinds of thoughts of what I "lack" or what will be with the future, I have to stop and realize that this mental battle is no less real than the physical and the spiritual one. I have to force myself to focus on today. Do I have everything I need at this moment for this day? And inevitably the answer is "yes" and even in your terribly trying situation, it would seem by your description of events that even when something was lacking, somewhere, somehow the need was met in the end, granted in a humiliating, demeaning way, but provided nonetheless. We simply can't understand why things have to come to some people in such a difficult way, but know that there is very great reward in it. I've no doubt that Hashem would prefer that everyone would be strong enough to accept this kind of life so that He could reward them more gloriously in the future world, but not everyone can bear it as you have until now.

Those of us raised in Western culture have much to overcome since, from the cradle, we have absorbed the idea that the pursuit of happiness is the goal of life and that a life of trials and suffering is to be avoided at all costs. If we willingly choose the hard path instead of the easy way, we are fools, according to this worldview, but Hashem dearly loves such "fools."

Since you're still in Israel, there's still time to salvage the situation. Chaval to come so far and endure so much only to give up right at the end.
Imagine a runner running a race through obstacle courses, up hills and through deserts, scratched, bleeding, dying of thirst and just over the final tallest craggiest hill is a sign that says "FINISH," but he can't see it yet. This hill is the hardest climb of all and all he wants to do is give up. The race course was designed this way so as to make the attainment of the goal that much sweeter. Our runner is faced with two possible outcomes: 1) He can take command of his senses put every thought out of his mind except one - finishing his course, and will himself up and up and over the crest of that hill where he will suddenly rejoice at the goal in clear sight, or 2), he can quit and return back the way he came, (because going back to the US without a home or job or car is also no picnic, I know, I did it twice) but, one day, he will know how close he came to finishing the race and how he gave up right at the hardest point and he will have so many, many regrets for not having stuck it out just a little bit longer.

I'm convinced that this is why it is one of Rambam's thirteen principles, that we truly believe that Mashiach can come at any moment on any day. All we need is the strength to get through each day, one at a time. When the day is especially hard, we can rest ourselves in the knowledge that rescue can come at any moment, that the whole world can change and our fortunes as well. When we dwell on the negative aspects of life and imagine that this is all there will ever be, endlessly, with no hope ever of any release or respite, that is when we allow circumstances (read yetzer hara) to beat us down and defeat us.

My blog is my way of keeping in touch with that thought, that we really are progressing, step by step, to the goal of the messianic age and that the culmination of this process can be realized at any moment. We are sooooo close. Please, PLEASE, don't give up now when we're mamash arriving at the finish line!! Hashem loves you, my sister, and He is so very proud of you and all you have endured for His sake and for the sake of the mitzvah of dwelling in His land! He wants to give you your entire reward intact because you have earned it!!

SeemsTrue said...

I don't think anybody except the first poster is really criticizing the poster but just pointing out that she is not the typical. Yes there are horror stories but it is so easy to blame the Israeli system.If I wanted to I can blame the Israeli doctors who did my D &C for the fact that I needed a hysterectomy at my last birth and for the fact that I almost DIED on the operating table. Yet I won't. There are some good doctors here and some bad .. just like in America..

Let me tell you that we had many many extra expenses at that time and I was unable to work until my baby was 8 months old. We got a huge debt from that . B'H we received a loan from our bank to help us with it recently because it was getting out of control. I think a lot of the issues people have hear are nisyonos like in any other country. Chances are the same thing would happen anywhere. It's like the idea that if you don't go to Israel then you won't get blown up by a bomb.The bombing of the twin towers proved that was wrong. I can tell you my horrible experiences of doctors in America as well. People are constantly going off the derech and having bad marriages there too.

Sometimes I wonder if I am nuts when financially it does get bad but then I see others who seem to make it on nothing. I have a neighbor who basically does mending and a little kiruv over skype . Until a few months ago she was managing on that (which is maybe 1,500 shekel) and her husbands kollel stipend. She lives better than me who works! My best friend has 7 kids and she and her husband both work. They would seem on paper not to make ends meet but somehow they always have food and a roof on their head even when it's not easy.

Life aint rosy in a America either. When we made aliyah almost 8 years ago our rent was 900 dollars and the only reason why we were able to afford it was because it included electricity.We started off in America in a little one room apt in someones basement that cost 450 dollars while when we moved here the rent for a 3 bedroom was 420! Somehow it's easier to complain about Israel but in America it is just dealt with .

It's a fact that immigrants always have a rough time in the beginning anywhere they go. When my great grandfather moved to America from Russia in 1900 he had to work super super hard to keep his job eventhough he kept Shabbos.People were getting fired just for not coming to work on Shabbos. People were going off the derech like hot cakes.

The point is that you can have the very same complaints in America as well.


A decent apartment with 3 bedrooms where I lived would easily cost me over 1,200 dollars. To put that with the cost of kosher food and tuition in America I have no clue how we would make it there.

There is a price to pay for being here but it is so worth it.

I think what the anonymous poster needs is a group of friends to give her chizzuk. Let her watch/read Lazer Brody and the like. Someone bring her a meal to make her feel good.

Anonymous said...

Why was my comment deleted? We need to be able to contact anonymously the poster and give help, not words. We don't know what sort of qualifications they have nor if they are sure about relocating and if so, where in the USA. Original poster please make yourself an anonymous email account and post it here. It is impossible to give help otherwise.

Anonymous said...

This is a sad story and it is similar to mine. I made Aliyah with a healthy amount of savings but could not find work and had to return to the UK.

My advice is to do several practical things before going.

1.) Save as much money as possible. Sell off everything you do not really need.

2.) Learn some Hebrew. But do not drive yourself crazy over this, as you will learn in Ulpan and pick up Hebrew simply by practicing it every day with Israelis, and you will pick up intonation and timing and popular phrases too.

3.) Be aware that it will take most adults over age 25 about four to six years to be fluent in Hebrew, so you will have to work in English when you arrive.

4.) THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL.
No matter what job you do outside of Israel, you must research the Israeli labour market. You must get a skill or skills that apply to Israel.
If you can cyber commute then good, but realistically you should learn about digital marketing, technical writing, copywriting, graphic design etc. These are the jobs that many Anglo immigrants do, and you will need to be professional.

5.) Know that you will not save money in Israel. You will just about get by.

6.) Network like crazy, meet up with strangers if they are friend of friends, connections are vital in Israel.

7.) Know that jobs in Israel can take four months or more to get. You have up to three interviews and you have to chase the company, they are slack in getting in touch.

8.) VERY IMPORTANT!!: Rent is high, property is very hard to find. If you can , stay in a cheap absorption centre (Merkaz Klita) during your Ulpan. It will be slumming it, but you need to spend as little as possible whilst not earning.

9.) Join all immigrant groups. Nefesh B Nefesh, Jewish Agency (mandatory) plus the very good JIA, and networking groups such as Olimbo (on Facebook) and Gvahim (for Anglo entrepreneurs). Their events are often free and you can make friends who will help you.

Do not make the mistakes I did. You can easily get through £30,000 (US$50,00) in a year in Israel. Save hard, and B'Hatzlachah!
If you can make a successful Aliyah, it will be very satisfiying.

Anonymous said...

It's also a lot harder to make aliya when you are married with children than when you are young, single and stupid, like I was. I hurled myself into learning Hebrew, and succeeded, studied a new profession, and worked like a dog, but I'm glad I did it.

Yosefa said...

While I fully understand financial difficulties as being a problem, this is not the only reason that people find making aliyah as an adult extremely difficult and is not the only hurdle to overcome. The reality is that being an immigrant in any country is hard for a million different reasons, from the language and cultural barriers to the unshakeable feeling that the immigrant has no real "home." Israel may be the true home of the Jewish people, but that should not be taken to mean that every individual Jew will show up in Israel and feel instantly at "home" as though he or she grew up there. Add to that the absence of family and old friends (you can make new friends, but old friends take time to make, obviously, and for someone above school age it is not that easy, especially in a different culture), and many people end up feeling extremely lost.

I think people need to truly ask themselves what is best for them at this time in their lives, to attempt to spend some extensive time in Israel before making the decision, and not to make aliyah on a whim. While there are people who have done it successfully, you are the only one who knows yourself and what is right for you.

Big J said...

I find it offensive that some folks (ie Anonymous 6:02) falsely claim "you cannot save money in Israel." Maybe he or she did not but that was their individual position. We have made more money in Israel than we ever made in the U.S. and the key is not to have a negative attitude that "its tough here" "if you can put food on the table that's it" Look, immigrating to ANY country is tough as you have to learn the rules of the local economy (ie the game). The simple truth is for us (and many people we know) financially it is much easire here than in the US. We pay 800 NIS for school per year (dati leumi) that's about 70 NIS per month per child, our health insurance - another joke 200 NIS a month for the family extensive coverage, and synagogue expenses - "0" !!! We do our own gardening and we dont buy processed American imported frozen garbage food. Our groceries for a family of 7 are about 2000 per month. How expensive is schnitzel 25 NIS per kilo buy 3 kg per week 2 meals from it 75 per week or 300 a month. Twice a week shuk shop of fruits and vegetables and eggs - another 250 per week (1000 per month). Buy 8 chickens a month 14 NIS per kilo (comes to roughly 250 NIS per month and the rest on milk, cheese, yogurts, etc.
Stay away from any service provider who says "US service" or "anglo service" you will pay a lot more for your insurance or any other service. And shop around for your ISP company, cell phone company, etc.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Israel for the past 6 months. My "bubble" popped after 4 months. Everything costs dollars but you get paid in dollars. Life is about survival there and everyone is stressed out as a result. One can barely afford rent and food, so forget about going out to restaurants, getting coffee or shopping. A pizza pie costs 60 shekels and most jobs pay 27 shekels an hour. Does that make sense? Moving back to America was the best decision I ever made. I can now truly appreciate the freedom of this country. G-d isn't going to save you, you are. Running away from your financial situation isn't going to make it go away.

Anonymous said...

I made Aliyah last year. This is NOT a rare occurrence.
This scenario happens to many people here. Many.
If you don't know Hebrew well enough forget about finding a good job. If you are over 40 forget about being hired at all.
The cost of living is ludicrous. The salaries in this country are down right laughable. Every product you buy here is inferior, but you pay at least 3x's more then in EU, America or Canada.
Those that make it and stay is RARE. After 3 yrs a high percentage of North Americans and Europeans leave because this just can not take the 3rd world mentality anymore.
Living in Israel is really a privilege. It is just a choice like any other life choices we make. Living here is unnecessarily hard. Every day is a battle of some sort. If it is not the gov't red tape nipping at your backside, it is fellow merchant Jews trying to screw you over. The doors here are not wide open. You have many eager people with big dreams and they get knocked down by the system here. This is why this family and many others leave. I feel so sad for her. You can tell that she really wanted to make it work. She really wanted to love being here.
In the end, somewhere else was just better for many reasons.

Anonymous said...

20 years of struggle and when too old or sick to work and pay the rent will probably become homeless. Sorry but Hashem has nothing to do with it, bad social policy, monopolies and greed do.