web analytics
March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


A Shoutout to Olim with Kids

Part of the problem of making Aliyah with kids involves the black and white nature of religious education in Israel.
A young olah accessing The "Tehila" E-government project.

A young olah accessing The "Tehila" E-government project.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

The bravest souls in the world, to my mind, are those parents who picked up and moved to Israel from the West with school age children. I made Aliyah as a newlywed and had my 12 children, every last one of them, here in Israel. My kids never knew any other system and Hebrew is their mother tongue. I watch those other families and I can’t imagine the courage it took for them to pull their children out of their cozy, settled, and familiar surroundings and take them far away to a new land forever.

God bless them for their efforts, because for sure, they don’t have it easy. Even if their children were proficient in Hebrew before the big move, everything—the subject matter, the system, their classmates, even simple things like notebooks and pencils—is different than it was in the Alte Heim (the “old home”). It’s even harder, if like so many children these days, the kids have learning difficulties, such as dyslexia or ADHD. It’s not like they could leave those behind.

One of my new friends, let’s call her Miriam, solved the problem by homeschooling her children. Miriam regularly does the rounds of schools both near and far, schlepping her kids for interviews. The schools tell her that they simply don’t have the tools, manpower, and infrastructure to deal with new immigrant students.

STARRY-EYED DETERMINATION

Miriam never gives up. She is determined to stay upbeat no matter what. Nothing is going to make her lose her starry-eyed wonder about living in the Holy Land. Her determination has resulted in two of three kids getting into schools, which involves a lot of driving back and forth. And of course, one kid is still left at home to be homeschooled until something, some school, gives.

Another friend, Heather Barr Cohnen, spoke to me about the rigidity of the school system, as she has experienced it since making Aliyah. The problem for her is the unwillingness of teachers to try out different (read nontraditional) pedagogical techniques. “I wish the system did not give up on associative learners. With just simple cognitive strategies like mnemonics they have success. In the real world you need innovations and people with associative styles of thought not a society of Stepford Wives.”

I’m not sure that what Heather has experienced since making Aliyah is all that different than teachers in the U.S. who “teach to the system and not to the child.” But it certainly can’t help to have to fight for your kid in a language that is not as comfortable in your mouth as English. I admire her for the active role she has assumed here in Israel since making Aliyah. Heather started a Facebook group called Bridge it – Olim Educational Advocacy for other parents in the same, new immigrant, boat.

TURNED AWAY

Part of the problem of making Aliyah with kids involves the black and white nature of religious education in Israel. One friend, I’ll call him Joe, described his late parents’ Aliyah to a Tel Aviv suburb, some 40 years ago. Joe’s parents were what we called “traditional” back in the United States. They wouldn’t have described themselves as Sabbath observant, but had always educated their children in Jewish day schools in the U.S. They thought to put their second grader into the Mamlachti Dati religious school in their new neighborhood, but because they weren’t Sabbath observant, their daughter was turned away.

Of course, 40 years is a long time ago, and one would hope that things have changed. But based on Miriam’s difficulties in finding a school willing to educate her children, and the rigidity of the system as Heather has experienced it, I’m not so sure.

While this seems (and is) a dire state of affairs, most parents (and their children) stick it out and make the most of things. Most westerners who make Aliyah do so for ideological reasons. They’re not going to let anything make them leave, and anyway, a lot of them have burned their bridges and have no way back.

KIDS NEED FRIENDS

In my neighborhood, we do our best to help Olim get acclimated, from helping them understand their electric bills, to becoming their substitute families when tragedy (God forbid, lo aleinu) strikes. If the new family’s kids are similar ages to my own, I like to get my kids involved, assuming they have compatible interests and personalities. These child Olim, more than anything, need friends.

About the Author: Blogger and mother of 12 Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program, Kars for Kids.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “A Shoutout to Olim with Kids”

  1. Thanks, Herb. You are a loyal reader.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu to Release Frozen Palestinian Authority Tax Revenue
Latest Blogs Stories
The Dimona nuclear reactor dome. Iran has been using Israel's reluctance to join the NPT to escape criticism of its own program.

“Israel has nuclear weapons & it isn’t afraid to use them if necessary-Does that frighten you? Good”

JB Flag

American Jews think they know what’s best for Israel-better than Israelis. Here’s my take…

HarHabayitwDome.jpg

An old Arab man yelled at me “You’re stupid!” I returned the compliment; He had murder in his eyes.

Doug Goldstein

Why do people feel the need to check their email 50X a day, constantly dipping in & out of Facebook?

Betar is the world-wide Zionist youth movement that refuses to be silent, and as our founder Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote: “Silence is despicable.”

Life in Europe’s pre-War Yeshiva world makes today’s rulings look like the Taliban has taken over.

Moshe’s the 1st family member in thousands of years to have the honor of serving in a Jewish army

Often wig wearers become more attractive after marriage. Doesn’t this turn the intent on its head?

US official interference in Israel’s Elections is not only immoral but may be illegal under US law.

The greatest thing about leaving Israel is the joy in returning, hearing/seeing/smelling coming home

I never felt an election resonate so much; I had true existential fear that my candidate might lose

It appears that Agudah has joined with those choosing to erase women from the public sphere.

How can you turn your passion into your business? How can you build your business around your life?

Politicians have their own egos as priority, not the good of the country nor the will of the people

I might have to “reassess” my position on President Obama if his “new positions and comments” on Israel don’t match his pre-election statements.

Find out about peak oil and how the production & sale of cheap oil has affected other oil sources

More Articles from Varda Meyers Epstein
BibiatAIPAC15.jpg

Only Bibi has the sort of leadership qualities we need to get us through this perilous time.

"Je suis Juif-I am a Jew" sign held by Jews at Paris unity rally on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015.

Come live in Israel-make us stronger and live unashamedly JEWISH in our God-given land. We need you.

“I don’t think my kids have any difficulties that are specific to the Israeli school system.”

The universities and the local progressive culture make Pacific Northwest a hotbed of Israel hatred.

Finding Tekhelet is about fulfilling an ancient mitzvah that was there the whole time.

While tekhelet is a biblical commandment, it’s one full of “buts” that bring me up short.

“We very strongly identify with the Aseh Chayil National Religious and Modern Orthodox ideology.”

“Everything we have done and learned regarding the gifted students has also come from speaking to more experienced Olim, not through the system.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/ear-to-the-ground/a-shoutout-to-olim-with-kids/2013/10/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: