Based on my experience with hundreds of cases in these last three years, I have some thoughts to share with you. This is not a legal article “per se” but the message here may have a huge influence on your day-to-day life. The goal of this article is a tentative essay on what I call: The best way to “join the club” without losing your uniqueness.
A new country, a new life, a new mentality, new people, new friends, new language and above all: new hopes. This is what we all confront when making Aliyah and no one is spared.
There are no statistics but I can certainly affirm that the index of divorce among new immigrants is higher (compared to the “regular” population). There is a lot of pressure: financial and emotional; and again no one is spared. The pressure is tremendous especially when only one of the couple succeeds in assimilating into Israeli society.
The first step of a successful Aliyah is accepting the fact that you are now here in Israel – for good and for bad. This is the place you chose to live and not a place to leave just because you are having difficulties. You came here with dreams so let’s commit to making these dreams become reality.
The second step should be to stop comparing the people, the country, the mentality or the service you receive here to the place you moved here from. You are now here and if you keep comparing, your life will be hard and possibly miserable. It doesn’t really matter how people act or react in the US or in South Africa because the people acting and reacting to events are now Israelis in Israel. Don’t try to make “them” change. You must be more accepting.
The third step is the easiest: If you cannot beat them, join them. Of course it doesn’t mean you have to “cut in front of the line” but when someone does it to you; do not hesitate to be “Israeli” and say: “Sliha! Ma ze? Lama?” (Excuse me! What’s this? Why?) Why not try it? You’ll see how easily you can do it.
The forth step, now that you are almost a real Israeli it doesn’t mean you must become like them! Be yourself; keep your mannerisms, your uniqueness, your “Minhagim“. You do not have to become rude – just don’t let them get away with being rude to you! You have some advantages over the “locals”. You probably speak English better and you are “that crazy guy who made Aliyah” (has anyone ever asked you “why did you come here? What’s wrong “there”?) Most Israelis do appreciate your courage in coming here.
The last step is learning how to “pick your battles”. You cannot change the mentality. At most; you can influence by behaving better, by not “sweating the small stuff”. You can become part of the Israeli society without being an Israeli.
Be more tolerant and more acceptable:
Try to understand where you are and if you have not noticed, Israel is located in the Middle East and not near Switzerland or Australia. The reality is that simple, therefore you must try to accept the fact that nothing will be the same as it was before your Aliyah. Be positive and believe that it will better, but also different.
Be “You” in Israel
You don’t have to be Israeli; you don’t have to blend in with the crowd. Just be you but respect your new reality. You have to adapt, not THEM. You are the newcomer and there is nothing wrong with that.
A last word of wisdom
If your Hebrew is good enough to understand and be understood, you should speak Hebrew even if you have that heavy mother-tongue accent. The Hebrew language is known to be a crucial factor in your successful Aliyah.