Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Aliya



Rabbi Jonathan Blass

7 Tishrei 5764
My family and I made Aliyah from a beautiful orthodox community in the US. We sold our house and used our savings to move, buy appliances and buy an apartment (plus a mortgage). My wife and I were 40 when we made Aliyah. I got a good job in a hi-tech company and my wife stayed home to take care of our 6 children, the oldest of whom was 12 when we arrived. It is now almost 10 years later. The company I worked for just closed and I am out of a job. I am virtually unemployable at the age of 50, I am competing with people 30 years old. My wife, who hasn’t worked in years, can only get a job at a low wage. Our oldest is in hesder, the rest of the children are being educated in yeshivot tichoniyot, etc. Their education is fair - not great. Our financial position is poor. We couldn’t save much from my salary and now whatever savings we have are being used to meet day to day expenses. The security situation is awful. Worst of all, the environment is frightening. We live in a mixed city and the peritzut, the anti-dati campaigning, the newspapers, etc. make me wonder. Maybe the ribono shel olam is saying that after 50 years, we’ve screwed it up. We had our chance and missed it. My friends and family in the US don’t have the financial, security and environmental problems we have. Their kids go to good schools, they know how to learn, they are active in their communities. What are we doing here? Maybe the whole zionist movement today is a mistake. Maybe Satmar is right and we should wait for mashiach. There is so little respect for Yiddishkeit here among chiloniim. In the US, if my cousin has to take off early Friday or for Yom Tov, everybody understands. He is considered "better" because he is religious. Here the religious establishment has made itself hated by so many people. I know I must sound bitter. I am. I am looking for a little encouragement as to why we are here notwithstanding that we are under such unbelievable pressure all the time - security, financial, social. Help.
Your Aliyah 10 years ago was a terrific self-sacrificing action on your part that expressed a commitment to the G-d of Israel, his people and his land. In the chain of generations that stretches back to our forefathers, it is YOU who brought your family back home from the exile where it had been displaced thousands of years ago by Romans or Babylonians and reestablished it in the Land of Israel. And Israel is home. In the exile you are a stranger in a foreign land. As a guest, sometimes you are treated with respect. Sometimes you are shown the door. At home- it is natural that there be disagreements with the other family members. You care about them, they care about you, the issues are important and you're building a family together. That is why there are fierce arguments here about religion and not everyone treats the religious with respect. Judaism belongs also to the non- observant and they feel strongly about it. If your kids' schools are only fair- try to supplement their education by studying with them yourself. Know that by involving them in Jewish life on a national level- a Jewish life that envelopes every aspect of a Jew's existence in Israel, the Jewish education you are giving them is better than any education in Exile no matter how well Gemara or Physic is taught there. I am sorry that your financial situation is so bad. I know that it is little comfort to realize much of the country suffers in the same way. From my own experience as a community rabbi, I can tell you that I have seen people your age who have been unemployed who have succeeded in learning another profession or in opening a small store. It's not a universal solution. But sometimes it works. May you have a G'mar Hatima Tova and be blessed with good health and parnasa.
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