Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Muqatian Quality of Life in the Shomron

Comment posed to the Muqata by Dgesg (and he is a mentsch! This is obviously not a post against him, attacking him, or anything like that...this is just my explanation)

Dear Jameel, I agree with your response to my comment 100%. But if I recall correctly, my point at issue with you was the fact that you wrote "my quality of life is probably a lot higher than yours." I don't no your financial situation (mine is not great), but that aside,purely based on safety and the economy in Israel that cannot be true. Let me mention once again that I respect you and what you are doing so much. But making a blanket statement that the standard of living in the Shomron is equal to somwhere in America, I cannot accept. What you are doing IS worth it, but it takes a certain type of person to do it. With much respect, --Dgesg

So what is our quality of life? Let us put finances aside for the moment, since quality of life has so many aspects to it. For the following, please tell me if your life has these quality elements in your neighborhood...

Little kids can walk to and from kindergarten, unattended, without fear of abduction (Safety and security in the US? Can you let your kids do that?)

Bigger kids can stay out late (or later) in the neighborhood, away from home, and come home without worry.

Some of our schools are walking distance for kids (though you have that as well in some places)

Kids can ride their bikes all around the yishuv, and we don't think much about it, or worry when they go around the block.

All food sold anywhere around our yishuv is kosher.

Jewish education is part and parcel of life here; the Hebrew date is on every newspaper, and announced on radio every morning. You can write checks with the Hebrew date on it. Why is that quality of life? Because it makes Judaism integrated into kids lives...naturally. Everyone here KNOWS when the chagim have vacation for chagim. There is no "Christmas" craziness. The bus driver will wish you a Shabbat Shalom on Friday, as will the people packing your groceries in the supermarket. Is that quality of life? Of course it is.

Judaism integrated with your life everywhere is natural in Israel. Only in certain neighborhoods in the US can you find that, like Kiryas Joel or Williamsburg. Even in the 5-towns or Passaic, there is an acute realization that Judaism is not integrated everywhere, in everything.

If you wish, you could live somewhere in Israel where there are no cars driving on the street on shabbat, and your kids can walk to and from shul by themselves (even age 3!)

Except in bungalow colonies in update NY or camp, where can you get that quality of life?

Yes, our homes are smaller than the ones in Pico-Robertson or Teaneck, but is that "quality of life" compared to kids being able to walk around outside without a leash and GPS tracking device attached to them?

There are much nicer cars in the US...and gas is cheaper.

Yet can you go on tiyulim that bring the Tanach alive? That quality of life can only be found here. The reason I'm harping on Jewish education, is that everyone invests so much money on education, but when love for Eretz Yisrael and parts of Judaism can be absorbed through the osmosis of living here, I consider that to be quality of life of the utmost.

Safety and Security? I think if you ask people here, most will say they feel safe.

The floor is open for discussion.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


JoeSettler said...

I miss American meat.

פייגא דבורה said...

Last week I was in downtown Baltimore picking something up from a store. I parked my car and before I got out I looked around, and witnessed a street fight in mid daylight- I was NOT getting out of that car. I circled the block a few times until it died down, parked on the other side of the street and made a run for the store. This was NOT considered a bad neighborhood. Personally, I think quality of life in Israel is MUCH higher- and if you think our malls are any safer than their "kenyons" you're kidding yourself. Sure, there are different types of safety issues but statistically, I wonder who's at greater risk. Sure, some Israelis struggle to make ends meet but so do Americans. The big difference in quality of life is community, something I've found in both places, but much more genuinely in Israel, especially the Shomron.

Anonymous said...

i get on a bus without a second thought.

i do not have to go to the army and risk my life.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

anon 6:21 In the US, there are many who go to the army and risk their lives.

And I also ride the buses, and send my kids on buses without a second thought.

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that so many people in America, such as your commenter, use "quality of life" and "standard of living" interchangably just about sums up the problem there.

Anonymous said...

I feel safer in Jameel's yishuv than in my own neighborhood in America. I take busses regularly here, as well, without a concern.

Back in my old neighborhood, my parents didn't even want me to walk home alone at night. Here, I'm free to travel the country.

I fell in love with Jameel's yishuv the moment I arrived. I've never felt that way about any place in America. Some of the most wonderful communities in the country can be found within Yesha.

Israel is our home. No, it's not perfect, but we have a lot for which we can be thankful, and we can work to improve those aspects of the country which we feel require attention.

Life is not perfect, nor is it easy. But looking at the big picture, there's not a doubt in my mind that life in Israel is exponentially better than life elsewhere in many ways.

I believe it was David Bogner who said that he thought he would be sacrificing so much when he came to Israel, but in reality, he has gained so much more.

Rafi G. said...

joe - I learned to shecht my own meat. I recently shechted a cow. You shouldknow that the fresh meat off that Israeli cow tasted better than any meat I remember having eaten in the US.

Sarah Likes Green said...

Living anywhere in the world has it's pros and cons, each place has it's different challenges. Quality of life can be as good in any place, it's really what you make of it. So living in Israel may not be easy in certain ways but there are so many other benefits (as Jameel mentioned) particularly in terms of a Jewish lifestyle.
When I was in Israel, I visited other yishuvim in the Shomron and they really are great places for families to live. And I particularly loved the fact that there is so much history, that from the yishuv you can see places from the Tanach and the stories come alive because you are right there where it happened.

Olah Chadasha said...

I think that this person's automatic knee jerk reactionary definition of quality of life as being one's financial situation very indicative of what's wrong with the States today. As Jameel put so eloquently, quality of life is not defined solely by one's income. I've heard from so many people, even members of my own family, words of amazement and exasperation when they heard or hear of my Aliyah. They say, "Oh, I can't move right now. You give up so much to live in Israel." "How can you move to Israel? Don't you miss all the luxuries of the U.S.? I hear these statements and the life ad nauseum. All I can say to these people is that yes, you may not make as much money in Israel as you may in the States, but you don't need as much, and when you live here, there are so many more fulfilling things than money. Life isn't hollow and materialistic. Finally, making a good financial living is in NO WAY guaranteed in the States. It's not like every single person in the States have a financially stable quality of life. Not every person in Israel is living in poverty. I'm so sick of these incorrect generalizations made about the quality of life in Israel, and, like Jameel, I'm sick of the incorrect generalizations made about life in the Shomron. If you haven't lived here, stop with the judging. I have never been more on the defensive than after I live here. How is it that I, a Jew, has to defend my decision to make Aliyah to OTHER JEWS. What's that all about?!? Either, you move here, or you stop projecting all your excuses for not moving here onto other people that have made the move.

Anonymous said...

O.K., here goes.
You are all approaching quality of life like it is objective. The criteria you are using are purely subjective. Perhaps you should all make a scale: a quality of life chart.
Yes, you might play freely inside a yishuv, but did you have to take a bulletproof bus to get there? How important is it to live somewhere where your children can roam free in the yishuv? Is it worth passing through a metal detector to go into a mall?
By the same right, is the individualistic American version of freedom good or bad for your children? Do you want them interacting with Christians and a majority Christian culture? What price is there in Israel in living in a culture where your enemies are seemingly dedicated to your extinction? Is the natural hatred of many Arabs corrosive to your children's well being? How does that compare to their living the Zionist dream and having a true sense of purpose, when many American kids lack such a motivating force?
You can't compare tapuzim and oranges. It has to be what qualities you personally value in quality of life.
One has to happy in his or her own skin. I can see both points of view. As far as idealism goes, though, it's hard to suggest the American way of life is superior.
Larry (The Maggid of B)

Anonymous said...

your average american, and certainly your average american orthodox jew, does not serve in the army, and can fully expect to never have to risk his/her life.

you cannot say this about israel.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Larry: I agree that quality of life is subjective. I brought it up since when looking at the big picture of yishuv life in Israel, the alleged security/safety issue isn't as huge as it may look from the outside.
But you are correct; everyone views their own quality of life differently.

OC: The point of my posting wasn't to attack those living in the US, but to explain my position that I don't believe it's so dangerous to live in the Shomron. If anything, the commenters said they had the utmost respect for those who "made the move"...and it was a sincere question (I dont think it was projecting at all).

Anon: What do you think of the fact that American Orthodox don't volunteer for the US army? Is that a lack of hakarat hatov? Is America worth fighting for?

Here in Israel, while it's unfortunate that the security situation demands the draft, I think it's a privledge to fight for what one believes in.

If you would have told people in Auschwitz during the WW II that one day there would be a Jewish army, in Jewish State, that could defend itself...they would have bitterly and cynically laughed in your face. So would the victims of the pogroms, the crusades, the inquisition...

Being able to defend yourself, as an Orthodox Jew is a Jewish State is an amazing histortical feat.

I suggest you ponder that a bit.

Anonymous said...

Jameel- the cars in America aren't necessarily nicer; there are some great cars available here in Israel that aren't even sold in America!

Gee a Moron said...

Even on the dry financial side I don't think we could be better off in America. Two areas that are so much more expensive there:

- education (Jewish education at the K-12 level) and college. My son went to Machon Lev and got his Computer Science degree essentially for free - he is an Atudai (ROTC is the closest American equivalent) serving now for six years in the Navy as a software developer and my daughter is at Bar Ilan. I'm paying full tuition for her at about $2,500/year.

- medical - for all the flaws with the Israeli bureacracy and waiting, the medical care is good and when you have the patience to work the system there aren't the huge insurance co-payments I had in the States.

The back of the hill said...

quality of life is not defined solely by one's income
It is also defined by the amount of pipe-tobacco one has stockpiled for the future. ;-D

All kidding aside, it depends upon what you consider important to your quality of life. Jameel mentioned the Jewishness. If that is one of the determinant factors for you, you should make Aliyah. If being surrounded by fellow Jews in a Jewish society in the land which was given to the patriarchs is important to your quality of life, then mach aliyah, by all means mach aliyah.

It may not mean much to others, though. What I appreciate about one place is not what I appreciate about another, though they both may be fine, and there may be good things about living in each.

Jameel, David Bogner, tnspr569, rafi goldmeier, olad chadasha - all of these people have things that make living in Israel so much more worthwhile to them than living in the States. I seriously doubt that Chicago style pizza or the scenic beauty of the SF Bay Area are important considerations for them. A comparison is problematic and probably beside the point. If they did not appreciate living in the land, they probably would not be there. For some people, without American things in their life, living in Israel is garbage. For others, living in the US is not fulfilling. Different values, different ideas.

Years ago, when I worked down the peninsula and had to commute all the way from SF, people asked me why I did not just simply move. I had to explain that the reason one works is for the time before and after work. Living in SF, that time before and after was in SF. If I moved to San Jose, yes my cost of living would go down and my commute would be much shorter - but for crapsakes, I'd have to drive to SF every day in order to live, and my quality of life would be garbage.

Other people do not mind living in San Jose.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

MUST Gum Addict said...

Having lived in San Jose for 3 years (I was just there last week), I of course hear what you're saying. And at the same time, the bay area -- while really a nice place -- just didn't do it for me and I am much happier here on the East Coast.

But you can never have an argument about something unless there's a clear way to measure it. If you can't measure quality of life, you can't possibly state that it's better in one place than it is somewhere else. And at the same time, we live a life of compromise, where people may decide to forego one "measure" of quality for another.

But Jameel, I have another -- what I feel is a more serious -- question that I'm hoping you can shed some light on. I have been wanting to actually post about this, but I feel that maybe you'd do a better job than I would.

I know plenty of people who make Aliyah -- and it's truly a wonderful thing -- I hope to do so one day as well. But many of these people (I'm primarily talking about the husbands in this case) continue to shuffle back and forth to the US and spend an enormous amount of time away from their families -- the same family that after such a big move probably needs them at home more so than ever.

Yes, I'm aware of the argument that just being able to live in the promised land is something that is so special. But at the risk of pulling a family apart?

I used to travel a lot (heck, I'm an official road warrior now), and I know the impact it had on my family. And I did everything I could to ensure I was always home for Shabbos. But some people who make Aliyah live here in the states for 2, or sometimes 3 weeks out of every month. My friend who lives in Bet Shemesh says that he's the only man who is even around in the entire place during the week (he's the token light-bulb changer).

I know that you travel somewhat Jameel, but maybe you can answer for others who move to Israel, yet leave their families while they still live back in the States...

JoeSettler said...

Rafi: You're invited to my next BBQ, BYOC.

tafka PP said...

Jameel, there are lots of reasons you can argue quality of life in Israel, or in your case, the Shomron, is superior. But personal safety certainly isn't a valid one.

Little kids can walk to and from kindergarten, unattended, without fear of abduction only because you live in a remote, secure yishuv full of people who presumably are under the impression that there is no real danger posed to their children. Now I'm sorry to be a harbinger of doom, but that is far from the case: There are more police files than you can imagine which back this fact up. And there will come a time, not just in your Yishuv but everywhere else in Israel, when such attitudes will have to change. It is irrelevant how remote/religious/close/aspirationalany community is, nowhere is safe. (And that's before we even enter into a discussion about the security, political and economic ramifications of where you have chosen to live.)

And anyone who proclaims that Israel overall is proportionally safer than the US is equally delusional: Just look at the news of the last week if you need any more proof (And these are just the cases which come to mind)-
A man stabbed his wife to death in broad daylight in the Malha Mall. The criminal/drugs underworld has murdered several innocents in cold blood. Gang rapes among teens in schools are on the rise. Car theft and drunk-driving is through the roof. Young children of rabbis pronouncing unpopular opinions are threatened and harrassed from within their own community. This is before we even scratch the surface of the burgeoning terrorism threats. No section of Israeli society can boast a monopoly on a safe or crime-free society, much as we might like to.

I didn't mean to depress you all. Just trying to be realistic. Returning to your point: Without a doubt, the Shomron boasts many of the "quality of life" advantages you mentioned, and it is not difficult to see why many people garner great satisfaction from living there. However, whether it remains sustainable in its current form is perhaps another question worth considering.

~My 2 shekels. Back to work.

Rafi G. said...

thanks Joe, but then you lose your anonymoity (at least to me)...

email me when you are having it... :-)

Olah Chadasha said...

Oh, Jameel, I wasn't talking about what you wrote. I actually started venting towards the end there. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

joe- can I come, too?

Jack Steiner said...

Yes, our homes are smaller than the ones in Pico-Robertson

Those houses aren't all that big, unless they have added on. Not that it matters.

Olah Chadasha said...

anonymous, I think you're wrong. While it is not on such an "in your face" level as in Israel, it is extremely prevalent today that American Jews do HAVE to defend themselves. While they don't necessarily have to risk their lives, they do have to defend themselves. The anti-semitism that is occurring today in America, masking itself in the "safety" of anti-Zionismm, is reminiscent of the vitriolent anti-Semitism that existed in pre-WWII America.

I would like to ask what the Holocaust has to do with anything? One of the reasons that many Holocaust survivors did not come to Palestine in 1945 was not because they didn't want to but because the British continued to bar Jews from entering the country for fear of Muslim reprisal in light of a possible massive influx of post-Holocaust Jewish immigrants. So, let's make sure to put things in context before we make statements. By the time the state of Israel was created, those survivors who did not come in the immediate after-math of the Holocaust had already settled in other places. Let's remember that the state of Israel was created a little over 3 years after the Holocaust ended, not immediately afterwards. This is a big factor. You must also take into account what was happening in the country when it first started. There was a divide amongst Holocaust survivors in how they interpreted the creation of the state. It was created by war. There were those who said that they had done nothing while extermination came to them and this time they would fight for their survival and country even if it cost them their life. There were others that said that they had just barely survived the Holocaust and it wasn't worth risking their lives or dying after having experienced such a trauma. Therefore, they opted for more peaceful climates. In either case, what you're saying is not a valid argument against what Jameel said about the reaction of Jewish victims of atrocities to the concept of a Jewish state where Jews defend themselves. Just because many Holocaust survivors didn't move here doesn't mean that the creation of the Jewish state didn't surprise or move them just the same.

Finally, can you please explain the kind of reputation Israelis do have? What is so bad about Israelis? Please, elaborate. I must remind you that American kids, especially in today's generation, do not have the best reputations, either. Unlike you, I'll voice the stereotypes and generalizations. They're seen as spoiled brats. Kids that are raised by parents that give them everything they want and never say no. American kids are not disciplined and always expect their way. They're rude, selfish, and disrespectful. American kids are seen as immersed in materialism and no longer have a concrete set of moral values with which to guide them. They're fat and lazy. They're immature and don't appreciate things. This is unlike Israel kids, who mature faster because of their Army service. Need I go on? So, please, I really would like to hear what you have to say about Israelis' reputation.

Mikeage said...

Although I normally agree with Jameel on these matters, I have to disagree re: the army.

While saying "... there would be a Jewish army, in Jewish State, that could defend itself ... Being able to defend yourself, as an Orthodox Jew is a Jewish State is an amazing histortical feat." may be somewhat true, we have to ask if it really matters.

I haven't seen, of late at least, that our government is actually willing to defend us to the standard that I think the US would protect it's residents.

Furthermore, as far as personal safety is concerned, I had many rights and options in the US that I gave up to live here. If I'm worried about the workers employed by a local kablan (or the animals I see relieving themselves next to our garbage cans every morning before they start that day's renovation on one of my neighbor's house), I have absolutely no ability, besides locking my door, to think about protecting myself. In America, in most states at least, I have a usable 2nd Amendment right to personal protection. Here, none of that is recognized.

Mikeage said...

there is a constant sense of pressure in israel. whether that emanates from incompetent or 'davka' clerks, politicians, military, or anti/religious people, or just the every day making a living, or even the individual and national existential threat, it is there, and almost palpable. maybe not @ the muqata, but there is a general sense of this all over, especially jerusalem.

Really? Thanks for telling me. I hadn't really noticed.

And no, I'm not being sarcastic. I'm totally serious.

Olah Chadasha said...


And, please, can you bring in your proof and sources for you claims about Holocaust survivors? Because, now you seem to be getting into the anecdotal field and not concrete evidence.

If you're going to make your comment about not wanting to raise your kids "Israeli" or risk having them become "Israeli", you really should be prepared to elaborate on your remarks. The reason I pointed out GENERALIZATIONS and STEREOTYPES (I pointed out what I was doing very clearly.) was to show to you that just as you can say that being Israeli is bad, any-one can make the same comeback about Americans. If you're going to make excuses and generalizations than so can I in rebuttal.

All your comments are reeking of anecdotal evidence rather than hard core proof. Last time I checked, going into any beurocratic (sp?) office is a pressure filled place to be. Yes, even in the United States. And, when the Democrats take over the White House in '08, you should be very well prepared to be living in the biggest Welfare State in the world, and I'd like to hear you complain about Israel's beurocracy then.

And, yes, as Jew, I don't believe that Jews should live outside of Israel. Why should I be ashamed of that, of all things?!? You should be ashamed of yourself of making it seem as though it's a negative. Oh yeah, and G-d agrees with me. So, maybe, you should re-read that whole Bible thing, and focus on Deuteronomy. Oh yeah, and then go and read the prayer book a little more carefully.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

OK - admitting that I started skimming near the end there, I have to chim in. First of all, yes I think in this instance "quality of life" is subjective. Define your values first. For some people I know in the US "quality of life" is definitely "standard of living". Most, newest toys, biggest homes, most expensive yeshiva and so forth. That is a value judgement. A statement of priorities, if you will.

Next. Commuting olim. In Ma'aleh Adumim we also have some of these commuters. Some go for weeks or months, some come home every weekend. It IS hard on the family - and it means that they have to compensate. But that's also an issue of priorities - a value judgement. For example, we Yehe Shmey's live in a very small apartment. For the commuters, it is important to their kids' emotional wellbeing to give each child his or her own room. Commuting allows that. It's not ALL about materialism.

Next. Safety here. There are still places in the US where kids can walk to school alone, etc. But are those places for YOU? Again, priorities. You can move out to the boonies and be physically safe, but if your values/priorities include davening with a minyan, Jewish schools, kosher food, you might not want to live in such a place in the US or Canada. Personally, I feel much safer in Israel, WITH the metal detectors and nice security people at the mall. It doesn't bother me. Being in the US is scary! But that's personal.

To summarize - we all have our priorities, our value systems, why what we do and where we do it works for us. If it's not working - look into something else. My personal take is that before we decide what we want, we need to think about what G-d wants. Maybe G-d wants us to be in a situation that requires a little more conciousness of responsibility for ourselves. I believe that the place for all Jews, ALL Jews, is Eretz Yisrael. But until until we merit redemption, we are going to have to rely on individual value systems and priorities to define who is going to get here (and stay here).

Every day I await the Mashiach!

Shavua tov.

Michael said...

Well, time for my two cents...

I think Jameel summed up the reasons why most of us make aliyah. I know he did for me, and I live in Karmiel, hardly a religious area, or a "front line" yishuv.

I've been having this same argument with my mother in law for over two years now; I think it is safe to say that some people will just never understand it.

However, living in a place where Judaism permeates the fabric of daily life, and having small, safe, quiet neighborhoods, truly does add up to quality.

That, and the really amazing view over the valley and the rest of town.

Michael said...

before I forget:
Joe Settler was right on about the meat; you just can't get a decent roast here. It's a small price to pay.

and Jameel, did you see my new blog address, to update the link?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Hi Michael - Ive updated the link, thanks :)

I think I'll have a followup on this whole thread in a new post.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Olah, but the fact is that Israeli bureaucrats at the Misrad Hapnim and Irya treat people with contempt. I have been exposed to the bureaucracy of several different countries, and Israel is by far the worst.

Welfare State America under the Democrats post '08 would be light years less socialist than Israel, with its insane taxation rates.

There are plenty of religious areas in Israel where one would not feel to safe walking around late at night.

Oh, and G-d never said that early 21st century Israeli society is better or more pleasant than its North American counterpart. Deal with it.

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