Letter to an American Friend

I received an email from an old friend last week updating me on the growth of her family and ending with a statement that could be taken as sincere concern – or cutting (because it’s sometimes difficult to detect someone’s  intent in an email). After mentioning that her husband isn’t happy at work but stays for the insurance she said:

“Jobs are not easy to come by these days. I hope I did not hit a sour note with that comment. I hope both of you are employed.”

I took it with a grain of salt (because we did struggle with employment in the beginning) and I’m gong to share my response to her here because this is what I’d like to say to all U.S. Galut Jews:

B”H we have work and are all doing well.  You should reconsider Aliyah. While the U.S. economy flushes down to the sewers, Israel’s economy is growing B”H!

How much did you pay for tuition per child this past year? With books, school shirts, field trips and classroom supplies, we spent under $500 and Yisrael is attending one of the top schools in the country!  The more Charedi type school in town charges about $750 per year more than what we paid out for the public religious school (a total of about $1250).

Another thing to consider… with supplemental health insurance premiums, office visit, lab and prescription co-pays, our total medical expense for 2011 was under $2000 for the 3 of us. And we go to English-speaking (American, South African and Australian) doctors here, receiving top quality care because Israel is on the cutting-edge of medical research.

With respect to parnassah, I beg you to strongly consider something: where does your parnassah come from right now? If you answered the name of your husband’s employer, you’re wrong.  All parnassah comes from Hashem. Do you honestly believe that Hashem isn’t capable of providing you with parnassah in HIS land?

It is true that in the most popular locations, you might not be able to have a home as luxurious as the one you currently own, but if you’re remaining in galut because of a golden cage… well, that’s between you and Hashem to work out.

A famous Rabbi in the Old City told me that when he and his wife arrived in Israel 50 years ago, they lived in a ONE-room shack for the entire first year he was teaching at a yeshiva. No running water. No refrigerator. No car. (Which is nothing like the lifestyle available to us now in Israel.) Today Hashem has blessed them with a lovely apartment in the Old City, 6 Torah-strong children, 37 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren all living and breathing Torah in the Holy Land. As he put it: “raised in Israel, not for export”!

We haven’t left Israeli soil for almost 4 years and have no desire to ever do so.  We love it here!  All of my Israeli clients are Jews and 90% of them are frum. Words can’t begin to describe how wonderful it is to spend a day in Jerusalem (like I did yesterday) meeting and working with clients and topping it off with a visit to daven Minchah at the Kotel before catching a bus home.  One of my clients, a beloved Rabbi, shared 2 hours of Torah insights with me yesterday in the Old City while we worked on his project.

I thought I would never get used to riding buses, but I have to tell you that Hashem makes the most incredible connections for us here. It’s rare for me to be on a bus without someone striking up a conversation about:

  • Torah
  • Kabbalah
  • Tehillim (including asking me to pray for someone they know)
  • opinions on proper chinuch or top schools
  • their curiosity over what keeps Jews in the galut during these difficult times when they obviously should get out while they can
  • referring me to someone for more work or giving me the opportunity to make a parnassah connection for someone
  • sharing a simcha
  • and more – everything from tears to joyous laughter

What amazes me most is when one of these people does not have outward religious appearance (e.g., bare headed soldiers, women who wouldn’t meet your tzniut standards, etc.), but they know more than many “frum” Americans I’ve met about spiritual connection to Hashem and His land.  Chesed seems to pass through the air here. With respect to Ahavat Israel, many people I meet understand that we are one big (albeit sometimes dysfunctional) family and we must help each other because no one else will.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but you may think you’re “living” in America, you’re wrong – you’re surviving (maybe) and practicing for what your life is supposed to be like when you’re living in the Holy Land; and you’re only getting a primer.

When you decide you’re ready to come home, let me know and I’ll do everything in my power to help you.

Wishing you all the best,

Tehillah

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3 thoughts on “Letter to an American Friend”

  1. I neglected to add this benefit because my friend’s children are still young, however, it is worth noting for those of you with older children:

    “Free Tuition for BA or MA Degree Assistance

    Description
    Candidates up to the age of 23 can receive assistance for Mechina (preparatory year course).
    Candidates up to the age of 27 can receive assistance for a BA and candidates up to the age of 30 can receive assistance for an MA.
    Student Benefits are provided by the Student Authority.
    Students who are studying for an MA may be eligible for a subsidy covering up to a year of Hashlamot, in addition to assistance with the cost of the degree. Students who choose to study in a one year MA program are eligible to receive two years of assistance to use towards the cost of their studies.
    Note: There may be changes regarding the tuition assistance received by Olim. Nefesh B’Nefesh will keep you updated as soon as the situation is clarified.

    Timetable

    Must start studies within 3 years after Aliyah or within the proper time frame given the student’s age. For example, if you make Aliyah at age 26, you will have one year to start your BA studies, as the benefit is only granted to students up to the age of 27. A student must study at an institution of higher education recognized by the Student Authority.

    Source: http://www.nbn.org.il/aliyahpedia/aliyah-benefits/government-benefits/664

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