New olim should appreciate having less in terms of quantity but so much more in terms of quality
Following the recent article "Why make aliyah?", an article that presented a short list of positive reasons for a Jew to consider building a life in Israel, I was asked by several people to relate to some of the potential difficulties that making aliyah entail.
Chief among them were the concern for finding a sustainable livelihood, the fear of not finding a spouse, the difficulty of having to adjust to a different standard of living and the general difficulty in dealing with what is occasionally a very different mentality. Thus, in order to address these issues, this article is being written.
From the start I would like to state that there is no magic wand solution to all the various concerns. No one can promise a new immigrant a job, just like no one can promise a new immigrant a spouse. Rather the ability to deal with the various issues, and they are indeed issues that no one is belittling, is in the hands of the new immigrant himself. Simply stated, it all depends on the right mindset.
For example, if someone makes aliyah and says "I'll give it a shot and if it works out I'm staying, otherwise I'm heading home", he's already setting himself up for a fall. Moreover, it doesn't matter how one defines 'giving it a shot', be it finding work, meeting one's spouse or making new friends.
The point is the more conditional one's aliyah is, the greater the chance that it will not work out. Conversely, the more one comes here fully convinced that this is the place for me, the place I want to lay down roots, build a life, raise a family, etc, the better the chance that his aliyah will be successful. Once again, it all depends on the mindset of the individual himself.
In addition, one must keep in mind that nowhere in the world is perfect. In this vein, I am constantly reminded of a young woman I met many years ago from Switzerland, which at the time was considered one of the best places in the world to live with low unemployment, low inflation, a low crime rate, beautiful mountains, etc. However, despite all these incredible qualities, she absolutely hated Switzerland for an assortment of social and cultural reasons. The point is that no country, be it Switzerland, Australia, the United States or Israel, is immune from problems.
Thus, if someone makes aliyah naively assuming that they are being promised a rose garden, chances are they will be disappointed. Instead, one should make aliyah being aware of the problems yet keep them in perspective compared to all the good that can be found here.
Another potential impediment for a successful and enriching aliyah experience is the natural tendency to compare. Many people come to Israel and for years constantly make comparisons to their former country and endlessly complain about the differences and what they believe is lacking here rather than simply accepting Israel for what it is.
In other words, there is no reason to forget one's former country and whatever positive attributes it contained, but endlessly complaining about what they perceive as lacking here in Israel just causes one to be bitter. Like anything in life one needs to learn to focus on the good. Moreover, if one constantly focuses on what he perceives as the negative in Israel, chances are that he was never 100% convinced of his aliyah in the first place.
In summary, the concerns that various people express are real, especially the anxiety about making a living, but as stated above one must remember that difficulties exist everywhere. Moreover, since it is usually due to familiarity with the language and culture in our countries of birth that enable us to deal with the various issues, it is only understandable that we are leery of placing ourselves in an unfamiliar society. However, this apprehension does not mean that the new society is any worse, it's simply less familiar. This is a very important point to keep in mind since it can help one cope with the inevitable trials and tribulations that are part of building a life in Israel.
Finally, by having the proper aliyah mindset, one can hopefully focus on the many positive aspects that are part of the aliyah experience, to appreciate perhaps having less in terms of quantity but so much more in terms of quality.