Letters to the Editor – Tisha B’Av 5783

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Integration Challenges

I was inspired by HaMizrachi’s interview with Rabbi Larry Rothwachs (“Building a Diaspora Style Community in Israel”, Vol. 6, No. 1) about his plans to make Aliyah and become the Rav of Meromei Shemesh. Be’ezrat Hashem, many families will join him.

As an oleh and as someone who has been working with olim for much of my life, I understand that olim need a soft landing spot in Israel. Having a supportive community and an easier social adjustment make a big difference. At the same time, however, this can create challenges.

One of the main challenges of Aliyah is integration, an issue that was not mentioned in the interview. As we see in existing communities with a mainly Anglo population, like Chashmonaim, Modi’in, and Efrat, young olim in these communities find it difficult to integrate socially with the local Israeli population. This separation can lead to a lack of a sense of belonging, behavioral issues, mental health challenges, and even, occasionally, resentment towards Israel. 

Many of these language barriers and cultural barriers can only be broken down when young olim share key experiences with native Israelis, experiences that I’m afraid the families of Meromei Shemesh won’t have unless a proper plan is put into place. A good ulpan is not enough.

I urge World Mizrachi to address this critical issue, alongside other organizations serving olim, like Bnei Akiva, NCSY Israel and OU Israel.

Etan Zivan

Founder and Director, Ruach HaNegev

Retamim, Israel


The Right and Wrong Ways to Encourage Aliyah

I loved the article by Rabbi Elie Mischel about how to encourage people to make Aliyah without being discouraging (“The Right and Wrong Ways to Encourage Aliyah”, Vol. 6, No. 1). Making Aliyah is not an easy thing to do, even under the best of circumstances. It’s not as simple as “book your plane ticket, pack, and go.” There’s a lot of paperwork and other things to do before you book your plane ticket and pack. And many of us are not in the best of circumstances. 

The most common obstacle is money. Many of us are worried about how to pay the costs of moving and how we’ll manage once we get home. Most olim do not have jobs waiting for them when they get off the plane. Many of us also have debts from student loans and mortgages. As one Nefesh B’Nefesh advisor told a friend of mine, “Eretz Yisrael is not a place to run away from debt.” 

Another common obstacle is health. There are those who would love to make Aliyah but who have health issues that make it difficult to leave, or who are caring for relatives who have health problems. And many people want to make Aliyah but do not want to leave their grown children and grandchildren behind. 

It’s frustrating to hear people who dismiss these obstacles as “first world issues” and compare them to the obstacles faced by refugees who came to Israel with only their lives and the clothing on their backs. Someone once said to me that she has no sympathy for people like me after meeting refugees. How does that help?

I would advise those who encourage Aliyah to not assume that those of us still living in the Diaspora are just looking for excuses and are too comfortable. The obstacles are very real and not to be dismissed. 

Thank you for understanding the challenges of Aliyah – and for a wonderful magazine that gives me hope every time. May Hashem bring us all home very soon!

Meira E. Schneider-Atik

Queens, New York, USA


Teach Your Parents Well

I enjoy each issue of HaMizrachi, and you are doing a great job bringing important, relevant, interesting and “old” new material to our community. That said, I think your essay, “Teach Your Parents Well” (Vol. 5, No. 9), about parents who discourage their children from making Aliyah after their gap year, missed a few important elements.

Many of us were only able to make Aliyah due to our parents’ financial sacrifice. We made Aliyah not despite our parents but rather because of our parents. They sacrificed to pay for many years of excellent Jewish education that instilled a love of Israel in us. Many people I know have only been able to move to Israel through their parents’ generous financial support over decades of their lives. 

Also, not every parent has the financial wherewithal to fly regularly to Israel or fund their children’s visits to America. For these families, a child’s Aliyah requires a great sacrifice, as the parents will not have the opportunity to frequently see their children and grandchildren. 

Aharon Ginsberg

Beit Shemesh, Israel


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