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missing out living in UK


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tishrei 22, 5782
Dear Rabbi, I am a Jew living in a suburban riverside commuter town just outside London, UK. I both have noticed and wanted to ask that apart from Israel, there specifically seems to be ’more going on’ with and in the Jewish community in the USA than anywhere else in the world . The reason of course if that after Israel, it is around six million in total compared to only 300,000 in the UK, and especially in the larger cities such as New York or Los Angeles. When looking in from the outside at a physical distance, I can often feel that I am ’missing out a special Jewish cultural experience’ when you see large modern Synagogues such as the Stephen Wise Temple in LA. I am an internationally minded person and try to always have and physically be where the ultimate is found, so to speak, but also realize that the grass is not always necessarily greener on the other side. I feel in a sense that I have got bored with and outgrown Europe, but because of the highly restrictive immigration laws, cannot move to the USA, just like most Jews in the USA do not qualify to live and work in the UK or EU. Most are also born and raised there complete with the accent. I could do Aliyah to Israel but without fluent Hebrew it can be difficult there with the jobs. Canada is a similar situation as per the tight immigration rules that I cannot get through. I have also looked to see if I can move to another part of the wider America’s continent, and although I am presently learning Spanish along with Russian, I am not likely to get a job offer in Mexico via a Zoom interview from London. Is the best strategy to cure all of this wunderlust or discontentment the following: (1) Come fully to terms of living in the UK and identify fully as a British and European Jew. It may not be the very best in the world, if anywhere does exist, but at least one of the them; (2) Fully accept the situation that whilst I can always visit to see and travel around the USA as a tourist on holiday, I am not American or a US citizen, cannot move to the USA and hence stop trying to be part of a nation and people which are not my own; (3) Use my EU rights to move to Spain if I desire a change. Finally, I also realise that we cannot choose where specifically in the world we are born, and not every single Jew can live in Israel or the USA either. With kindest regards
Shalom! Firstly, allow me to admire your search for truth and improvement, and correctly realizing that your Judaism is central to your identity. It's true that a central part of being Jewish is to be part of something big and even eternal. To truly feel being part of the eternal Chosen People, it's not logical to live as a small minority, often mocked or made to feel second class, but rather as a proud member of God's Nation of Israel. Only in Israel can a Jew really feel "at home", the natural sensation of being with your own people as one big family, where we don't have to worry about intermarriage, assimilation or anti-Semitism. Even when there are enemies, we stand together united as the formidable Israel Defense Force. Here life has meaning, and every Jew contributes to weave the fabric of the Jewish future, and the next chapter of the Bible. Here, Jews making Aliya are promised a generous basket of benefits and immediate citizenship, mentioned already in Israel's Declaration of Independence, as a central ideal of our society and State: we want you Home! Half of the Israeli's, including myself, weren't born here, and manage to learn the language, integrate and even thrive relatively quickly, meshing with our brothers who have come from Russia, France, the U.S., Ethiopia, Venezuela etc. Especially if you know English, there's a very large community of Anglos, including hundreds of thousands of olim from America, Canada, Europe, Australia, South Africa, etc. and at any given moment, you can probably hear English in the streets of Ra'anana, Efrat, Jerusalem and more. After Hebrew, which you can acquire relatively easy in a local "ulpan" or online in one of the new apps, English is the second most used language here, used extensively in businesses and universities. Most importantly, in Israel you feel Jewish Pride and significance, part of Jewish history, something larger than life. You can contribute and make an impact where you are really needed, in your relatively small and young country, which has already begun to realize our great potential. I strongly suggest you to come and try it out, joining your 7 million brothers and sisters, who have already come home to the Land of our fore-fathers and our future! It promises to be the single most significant decision of your life! Rav Ari Shvat
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