Sunday, December 29, 2019

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7th Night, 12 Years

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

This 7th night of Chanukah is my 12th year anniversary of making Aliyah (moving up) to Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel).

My wife was recently with her friend and her friend's grandson, who is a rabbinical student studying in Israel, and she asked him if he intends to stay or move to Israel after he finishes his studies.  He responded, "no way, I like my comforts too much".

My youngest son, who does like to tweet his dad's chain, asked me last night "nu, wouldn't it have been better to wait until we were all 18 (or older)?"

My answer: absolutely not. It's beautiful and wonderful to say living in the Land of Israel, G-d's gift to the Jews, is a blessing, a special gift and an opportunity not to be missed.  But let's get practical as well:


  • Jewish private education in the U.S. is impossibly expensive.  If you have more than a couple of children and make less than several hundred thousand dollars a year, you have to beg, borrow, take charity and yes, cheat, to get a U.S. based religious education for your children. And if you have a child who needs special help or is special needs, it's college level prices. The alternative... U.S. does still have some decent public schools, but good look finding them and good luck with the current cultural indoctrination and clash with Jewish family values.  In Israel your children will get a good solid Jewish religious education -- and if you make the right choices, maybe a decent secular education as well (but that is harder to find with the Jewish one, so unfortunately in some ways the problem is reversed.)
  • Safety as a Jew.  8 serious anti-semitic attacks this Chanukah in the New York area, 2 of them deadly and 2 of them threatening mass murder.  While Israel has had periods of serious terrorism, currently Israel is significantly safer than the U.S. in violent crime, in anti-semitic attacks, in gun attacks, and yes in terrorism.  This is a trend we wrote about here on the blog over the last 15 years, and it has - unfortunately - reached a tipping point where Jews have become a clear threatened target in the U.S.  
  • Health care (especially with a large family).  When I left the U.S., health care was quickly becoming a major cost issue for me, and having had a serious family medical issue while I was between jobs (and didn't know to take COBRA coverage) had cost me everything once.  Obamacare made it worse, increasing costs while reducing coverage.  In the meantime, Israel's health system upgraded to a world class system where today Israel takes referrals from around the world and receives medical tourism.  It's not perfect, and it has gaps especially for those with chronic and unique conditions, but overall you'll get good care and it doesn't cost you out of pocket.  In Israel, I'm not afraid to run to the Emergency Room because it might bankrupt me - and in the U.S. there were occasions where I was deciding whether to take a child for emergency care or not based on whether deductibles had been met or if I could cover the out-of-pocket.
  • Jewish Life is...Readily Available and part of daily existence.  The U.S. is a great country, but it has it's primary culture such as the Thanksgiving season and the Xmas season.  But I want to immerse myself and especially my children in the Rosh Hashana season, the Chanukah season, the Passover season.  In Israel, companies have Rosh Hashana and Chanukah parties, the bakeries come out with their Chanukah fancy donut collections, companies give a Passover and Rosh Hashana bonus, ads for Sukkah supplies are on the back of every bus, the dairy companies have big sales for Shavuos... my family and I can enjoy being part of a national culture instead of avoiding the national culture.
  • Longer life expectancy, higher happiness index.  Surprisingly, Israel has a longer life expectancy average and a higher happiness index than the U.S.  Lifestyles in Israel are healthier, and the people are happier (even if they have less stuff).
  • They got my back.  While the Jews of New York are now begging the authorities to provide additional security coverage for Jewish neighbourhoods, stores, institutions, in Israel everyone "got my back".  We're all in it together.  4 of my children have done Israeli army service.  And while we trust in Hashem and only He is the ultimate safety, we are obligated to do our part.  And in Israel, people do stand together. 
  • Yes, you can get it in Israel.  While in the past Israel's economy was weaker than the U.S., in the past 25 years it has grown into a powerhouse and has salaries at a first world average.  And if you want it, it's probably sold here.  And if it's not, you can order it from Amazon.com (free shipping to Israel right now!) or from AliExpress.  (Currently 12% of Israel's economy is arriving in small packages from overseas.) 
I am pleased and blessed to be living in the Land of Israel, and thank G-d for the opportunity to do so for the past 12 years.

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