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July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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At A Crossroads In Life: A Wife’s Dilemma…

Dear Rachel,

Ever since I’ve known my husband, I knew that he had a strong love for Eretz Yisrael. But there was never any serious talk about us settling there, at least not in our near future. Both of our families live here (in the US) and being surrounded by family has always meant a lot to both of us.

About a year ago – some fifteen years into our marriage and with a handful of children – my husband became suddenly obsessed with making aliyah. At first I thought it would be a passing stage. On the couple of occasions we visited Israel we were enthralled (who isn’t?) but then it’s back to reality and the here and now.

Bottom line, my husband is gung-ho on the idea of us moving overseas and no arguing or pleading on my part has had any effect on him. He keeps insisting that it’s the place where every Jew belongs and that procrastinating would make it harder on our children. The younger they are the easier it will be for them to adjust to the change.

Aside from having my family and close friends here (and none there), there is a parnassa issue that my husband pooh-poohs away. (After years of struggling, my husband’s finally broken ground with a viable livelihood that wouldn’t quite cut it over there.) There is also a language impediment — my husband is hardly conversant in Ivrit.

Frankly, picking up and leaving everything and everyone behind to start our lives over in a new country unnerves me to no end. Our shalom bayis has taken a beating over this and my elderly parents are not jumping for joy at the thought of us moving so far away. My in-laws are not thrilled either, but they are younger and visit Israel frequently.

To my dismay, my husband has already approached realtors about selling our home, which we scrimped and saved to buy just a few short years ago.

I can’t imagine how you can possibly be of help but a close friend suggested that I write to you. Guess she felt that unburdening might do me good. Maybe so – at least for the moment.

Thanks for listening.

 

Tzittering and Tzutumult

Dear Tzittering,

You are not the first to experience this kind of upheaval in your life, nor will you be the last. But that’s neither here nor there. Your situation is unique to you and you are the one who must deal with it. Obviously you don’t share your husband’s passion and enthusiasm for settling in the Holy Land. Admirable as his goal may be, it should be a shared ambition. I trust he cares enough about you and his marriage to discuss this matter over with his rav before running away with his instincts.

You raise some very relevant issues — paramount among them the parnassa factor, which is of major consequence. While many families do make the adjustment, numerous others are struggling to survive day by day.

Close friends of mine took this giant step several months ago under similar circumstances to yours. Here are some snippets of correspondence from across the miles (with their permission) to lend you some insight into the ups and downs in the lives of new olim, from a personal perspective.

“…Everyone we meet who moved here went through the same thing to some degree. This is an oasis in the middle of a dessert and thereby has both characteristics: miraculous foliage (beauty), and barren parched spots (roughness).

It is the most holy, therefore one can find the most evil as well. It is the most religious, therefore one can find the least religious arguments here. Some people are so holy as to be G-d-like, while you can easily find the most callous people as well.

            It’s a minefield, with streets going up for one block and down for another… no flat roads in Jerusalem, reminding us that for every up there must be a down and for every down there must be an up.

            It’s a tricky and confusing, giddy and depressing time for anyone trying to make such a move. It’s like entering prison, G-d forbid, and high society at the same time. One second you feel like you can’t trust anything, and the next minute you feel like you are living among royalty.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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