Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Attitude; The Oleh's Best Friend

Living in Israel is a challenge, and for immigrants, even more.

I could spend days and days pointing out the warts of Israeli society -- the number of problems and challenges are as countless as the grains of sand or stars in the sky.

The Israeli government is almost incomprehensible; is it stupidity, evil, corruption, hatred, apathy or blindness that decides and implements policy?

Just a quick and short roundup of a few issues of the day that demonstrate the point:

In an effort to earn more money for the government's coffers, Israel now charges a towing fee for cars damaged in terror attacks.
A family of new immigrants from the United States was startled to discover the new policy while trying to overcome the trauma of the first Jerusalem bulldozer attack.The family was ordered to pay for the towing of its damaged car from the attack scene; other residents faced similar demands.

The Aizenshtats moved to Israel from the US four years ago. On the day of the bulldozer attack they were driving in their car with their three children near the construction site where the terrorist came from.

The vehicle was towed away, and later the family was contacted by a government appraiser and asked to pay NIS 685 (roughly $200) for towing the car. "We were driving and suddenly saw the bulldozer charging at us," Rochelle Aizenshtat recounted. "We were in shock and we started screaming." One of the girls in the car sustained light wounds only, but the car was seriously damaged. (YNET)

Israel is facing it's worst water shortage ever.

The town of Afula for example has created a park with a man-made lake that has been filled 4 times so far, wasting tens of thousands of cubic meters of fresh drinking water, due to the poor planning and construction of the lake which allowed the water to leak out.

The Jordan river is so low in places, that the rafting/kayaking businesses are on the verge of stopping activity. A commission has been established to examine how we got into such a mess.
The future commission is to be tasked with investigating the failures that led the various Israeli governments to disregard dozens of reports and recommendations drafted by professional committees formed throughout the years and compiling a series of short and long-term recommendations that would ensure that Israel's water supply would remain intact. (YNET)
After 3 years since the Disengagement, most of the evicted families are still unemployed, in temporary housing, and without permanent housing plans.

Over the past few days, the former Gaza inhabitants discovered their belongings, mostly Holy Scriptures and additional materials that were packed at the various community synagogues and stored at a Ministry of Religious Affairs’ warehouse at Moshav Givati near Ashdod, have been severely damaged. Some of the Judaica was completely ruined and some was cast on the floor covered in mold and dust.
The SELA Administration for Assistance to Settlers from the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria referred Tucker and his friends to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which referred them to the person in charge of storage. He referred them to the storehouse on Kibbutz Givati, which was leased out to hold the contents of evacuated Gaza community synagogues. (read the whole sordid, sad run-around story here on YNET)
The State Comptroller Committee approved yesterday the establishment of an investigative committee to look into the appalling treatment of 2005's Gaza evacuees. The State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss was quoted as saying that this was a grave problem for which "a solution must be found, and it is possible that the appropriate way to do this is through an investigative committee."

Of course, there are people such as MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) that voted for the Disengagement who believe it was so successful that such an investigation is unwarranted and politically motivated.

MK Vilan said that the establishment of this committee constitutes "cheap populism". He added: "it pains me that instead of remaining outside of the political discussion, the state comptroller has taken a stance that will have long-term political consequences." (JPost)

So what's a person to do?

Israel is not a rose garden, yet. Till that happens, the best way to deal with life here on a daily basis when confronting the frustration of dealing with so many problems is attitude.

Yes, coming to Israel with lots of money helps. (I didn't...I came with a few hundred dollars, but then again, I was single).

Coming to Israel with a job lined up helps. (Coming to Israel with a skillset that is wanted in the marketplace really helps)

Coming to Israel with family members living here helps.

Knowing Hebrew before moving here helps.

But the #1 trait to bring with you is a positive attitude -- that you are here to make a difference, here to build the country, here to raise a family and be part of the community, and here, because it's home.

Old-time blogger Chayyei Sarah has a great post in honor of her 5 year aliyanniversary on her absorption and the 5 stages of acclimation to Israel (Euphoria, Panic, Depression, Adaption, and Acculturation).

CS writes, "But the pot of gold at the end of the absorption rainbow is . . ." (stage 5).

Life here can be difficult and scary. Building a home was difficult, taking out a mortgage was scary, the first time I showed up at the bakum (the IDF absorption center), I was in a panic when told I was about to serve 18 months (married, with 3 kids, with a job and mortgage, 18 months sounded a bit too long...but till I found someone who agreed with me, I had many butterflies in my stomach).

Yet just as life in general can be scary here, the same applies everywhere and not only here.

There is annoying beauracracy in the rest of the world. In fact, getting an Israeli passport is now easier than getting an American one in the United States. Israel has improved by light-years in terms of telecommunications. When it used to take 9 years to get a residential phone line, one can get hooked up to a phone, complete with ADSL internet in days. Customer service is now a concept in Israel that never used to exist. Look at Israel in the 1970s and 80s -- and compare the standard of living. Cellphones, food-quality and diversity, housing, tourism, the list is enormous.

So while the government may be a bunch of crooks, or even cruel hearted and corrupted, overall things have improved.

The choice to make is this; are you going to have a positive attitude and approach every problem as a challenge? Are you going to view the absorption process with a smile? Are you going to make the best of a difficult situation because we have no real alternative home?

Fixing the problems (or trying to) is the best possible solution -- so that Israel will be a better place for our children, and the olim that follow us.

CS wrote: A friend of mine said "I'm upset because I don't feel the holiness as much as I used to." I answered: "You don't notice it as much because you've become part of it." Yet, once in a while, one still can step back and appreciate it. I live in Israel.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Rafi G. said...

great post. But we all know the real purpose was to mention the plight of the evacuees of GK without doing it too overtly... :-)

attitude is the greatest necessity. I remember when I was in yeshiva, someone sat down at my table at breakfast and poured himself a bowl of cereal. he then ate it while complaining the whole time that the cornflakes were not crunchy enough.

If you are looking to complain, there will always be something to complain about, no matter what you are doing or where you are... But if you are looking to enjoy and succeed, have a good attitude and you will brush off all the minor (or not so minor) inconveniences...

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Thanks Rafi.

Your point of surreptitiously mentioning GK was only partially correct -- it was also meant to subtly remind our readers what an awful government we have...

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

Attitude, thankfulness for what you do have, awe and appreciation for actually being in Eretz Hakodesh (watch Xians in Israel for the 1st time), and FLEXIBILITY when what you think is a good and holy plan doesn't work.

I'm here 21 years this Shabbat. Yay!

YMedad said...

I'm here 38 years and still trying to figure it out.

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

No, Rafi, the real purpose was to remind me (as though there was a chance I would forget) that when I get annoyed about my government and society, I can't end with an upbeat couple of paragraphs about kedushat ha'aretz and our yerushah.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

TRH: works every time ;-)

YSRM: Mazal Tov! Happy Aliyanniversary!

YMedad: Aren't we all.

Erachet said...

Thanks for this post. Your message proves true not just for aliyah but for any challenge in life. :)

Gee a Moron said...

I formulated the Moron's rules of living in Israel years ago:

Rule #1: You don't know the rules of the game.

Rule #2: If you should figure out the rules you will discover that they are constructed such that you cannot win.

Rule #3: If you should find yourself winning then you can expect that the rules will be suddenly, without warning, and even retroactively changed such that you are now back to rule #1.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the linky love!

Chayyei Sarah

Leah Goodman said...

13 years next week!

bec said...

while i agree that attitude is important, from experience i can say that it is not the be all and end all of a successful aliyah. sadly, i know many people who made aliyah and left, myself included, and not once did i encounter any of these people not giving practically all of themselves over to staying in israel. in the end, most chose between israel and mental health, israel and family stability and shalom bayis, israel and the ability to pay their bills. the people i know sent CVs all over the country and were prepared to move wherever they had to. others had to choose between commuting to the states for work (not a good option for every family) and moving back to have a stable home situation. in my case, parnassa, adjustment for the kids, and health issues ultimately prevailed over ideology.
i'd say that yes, attitude is important, but it's not THE reason why some aliyot don't work out.

Baila said...

I can't believe I missed this one...what is most difficult for me is feeling "foreign"--and I the ink that was a surprise for me. I find it hard to maneuver the beaurocracy, not because I don't speak the language, my Hebrew is pretty good, but because I just am unfamiliar with HOW things are done over here. It's given me a whole new perspective on my parent's experience as immigrants in America, where they didn't have the language or the financial resources that we , Baruch Hashem, do...

I agree that attitude (and sense of humor) is key.

Baila said...

Oh, and another thing. When we were moving last year, a guy in our neighborhood who bought our dining room set, said to me, "I could never make Aliyah, with that kind of government in power". I said, "Listen, you don't have to justify to me why you are not making Aliyah. I didn't ask you. But what your are saying is a load of crap and you know it." I have alot more respect for my friends who say they are not making Aliyah because they just don't want to, then for "ideological" reasons.

... Is the Window to Our Soul said...

Hey, that almost sounded like what I wrote on Trep's blog. Hmmm,guess remembering life in the 80's in Israel,really hits home with appreciating what's available today.

the sabra said...

I was expecting some personal info at the end- contact (phone, address) and other (credit card number)-as an offer of help to all the olim.

Esser Agaroth said...


My thoughts on this here:

Jameel's Attitude

A Living Nadneyda said...

I'm with Baila -- tell it like it is, and no one owes anyone any excuses.

Come if you really want to, and be sure to show up with that extra smidgeon of excitement / motivation / patience / creativity / ability to laugh at yourself and everything around you, 'cause if you don't, then living in Israel might not be the best solution for you right now.

But if you do get yourself here, it's well worth it.

Fourteen years and counting...


Esser Agaroth said...

11 Years! of 26 of the Fourth Month (Tammuz)

Anonymous said...

Almost 6 years ke'h ken yirbu!

I am both tthough, I still never buy cloths in israel, import my shampoo, body wash etc..

Bezek is easy to deal with, I go to the bezek store by tachana.

I still prefer the US for many things, paypal, my bank's flexibility, ebay and internet commerce c'mon amazon!

Was easy getting a drivers license here.. the list goes on.

Search the Muqata


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