Volume 31 Number 31
                 Produced: Thu Feb  3 21:19:27 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aliya to Save Your Children (5)
         [Freda B Birnbaum, uri, Azriel Winnett, Dani Wassner, Yehuda &
Rebecca Poch]


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 10:55:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Aliya to Save Your Children

Carl Sherer made an impassioned response, in v31n26, on the case for
making aliya.  I certainly respect his passion and commitment.  However,
as one of the people quoted in his "rebuttal", I would like to add a few

> > -- no special job skills to take there
> This is the standard of living argument in another guise. I think I
> dealt with that above. But in any event, why does anyone think that
> (other than language) the job skills are any different there than they
> are here?

When I made this statement (not an "argument", I was simply speculating
on what people's reasons might be), I was thinking that MANY of us are
just working stiffs, not brilliant lawyers or computer scientists.  Some
of us are thinking survival versus non-survival, not higher-versus-lower
living standards.

> > -- unwillingness to uproot other children from their social networks
> Children are the most adaptable people in the world. Anyone with
> children under 12 probably has nothing to worry about. Anyone with
> children under 8 almost certainly has nothing to worry about.

I can tell you from personal experience that not all children are so
adaptable.  When I was younger, we moved around way too much for my
comfort level.  I was not at all a happy camper about uprooting from
familiar surroundings. And a language change was not even involved.

> I hope that all of you will take my words to heart. If I manage to 
> save one child from the American public schools, this post has 
> accomplished something.

There are a lot of very fine baalei teshuva who have survived the public
school system in America reasonably well.  I suppose they are worse than
when I went to them, but I am a little puzzled at the near-demonization
of the public school system.

Carl's arguments are good, but may not fit everybody's situation.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"

From: uri <uri@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 12:31:14 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re:  Aliya to Save Your Children

[Somewhat edited to shorten but tried not to remove parts that were
germaine to the discussion. Mod.]

> Anyone who can find a job in the US can find one in Israel. There are
> very few unemployed American olim.

How would you like to be one of those few yourself? How do you think
a prospective ole (immigrant) evaluates [and likes] the odds?

> I am appalled at this answer. We are talking about children who will
> otherwise be sent to public schools, to a spiritual midbar (desert).

First I'd like to remind, that not all of Israel is a "spiritual orchard",
and not all of America is a "spiritual desert".

> And you are worried about your standard of living?

Well, in addition to be educated in schools, those children are supposed
to be clothed, fed, entertained once-in-a-while - and spend time with
their parents. While this time often isn't much in USA, it may become
even less so due to lower life standard (i.e. you work more
[time+efforts] and get less).

> "(I said to him, my son, if
> you give me all of the silver and gold and precious stone and jewels in
> the world, I will not live other than in a place of Torah. For at the
> time when a person dies (R"L) his silver and gold and precious stones
> and jewels do not accompany him; only his Torah and good deeds accompany
> him)".

It also says somewhere "Don't judge another person until you've been
in his shoes".  The fact that *you* made a successful aliyah doesn't
automatically mean others got "the same chance" and ought to try it.

> And you are willing to condemn your children to the spiritual wilderness
> of a public school - clearly NOT a makom shel Torah, because your
> standard of living might drop????

Public schools are "spiritual wilderness"?  Possibly, though I'd expect
them to teach basic [secular] sciences and leave the spiritual to those
who are qualified - and that necessarily includes the family.

And it's related to the question of "how low the standard of living
might drop", isn't it.  When it hits the floor, it isn't pleasant.

> > Second, the life in Israel is richer in some aspects (which alone could
> > make the aliyah worthwhile) but it puts a noticeably higher pressure on
> > an individual especially if he didn't grow up in that environment. Not
> > all can take this pressure, or live in that social environment.
> But not to even try?

People usually aren't willing to gamble with something as important as
the rest of their life plus lives of their family and relatives.  Just
think of all the implications.

I can try to drive an unfamiliar car, any time. I can try a new
medication - if there's enough justification.  I can try to rip myself
and my family away from the known environment and move somewhere else -
if there is reason enough to believe it will improve the situation. To
"try" merely for the sake of marking a checkbox "Yeah, I've tried that
and now can speak from my own experience"...?

[And why may it not work? Because that's the experience I had - for
example, in last summer.]

> How many of you have ever seriously looked at making aliya?

Some have, I'm sure.  Myself for one. So...?

> As much as I may have liked my goyische
> neighbors in New Jersey, I could never borrow a cup of sugar from them,
> I could never really invite them in for a meal (what if they wanted to
> reciprocate), I could never discuss with them the latest sugya I was
> learning. What is more comfortable than living amongst fruhmmer yiddin
> (religious Jews)?

First, there's more to Judaism than discussing sugiyot. Second, people
have been solving the "kitchen" problems (how to invite non-Jews and how
to deal with being invited to a non-Jew) successfully for a long time.

But the more important side of it is: a person who's lonely in US, is
likely to stay lonely in Israel, and vs. versa - one who's done well
here will probably do comparably well there, human-relations-wise.  I
know people who went from loneliness to a worse loneliness there.  So it
would not be correct to over-generalize.

> ...that we are talking about our kids' future! How much money is it worth
> to you to have your kids come out fruhm? And if you are going to put a
> price on it, go ask someone who R"L has kids who have gone off the
> derech (path) because I wil guarantee you that (assuming they themselves
> are fruhm) there is no price they would not pay to put their children on
> the straight and narrow.

Are you saying that children in Israel are not going "off the derech"?!

There are places/schools/etc in Israel where it is likelier for children
to stay "on the way". There are such places in USA too.  Maybe the lower
cost of "proper schooling" in Israel is overcome by lower incomes, more
time spend on work and travel to/from it, etc. etc...?

I wish it were as simple as you're trying to paint...

> The Torah says
> (Breishis 2:24), "Al kein yaazov ish es aviv v'es emo v'davak b'ishto
> v'hayu levasar echad." (Therefore a man should leave his father and
> mother and cleave to his wife and become one with her).

Hmm, what does Torah say about respect for Mother and Father? If I recall,
Jacob was very concerned meeting Esav, because he failed to fullfil the
mitzva of showing that respect - by being away? Even though his being
away was more than justified...?

> That when it's between what's best for our parents and
> what's best for our children, we do what's best for the children.

But who says that living in the [current] state of Israel is the best
for our children?

> Fourth, living in Israel is a mitzva. (I have done several posts proving
> this in the past - there is one early in Volume 25).

Apparently (even though Ramban agrees with you), Rambam does not. 
I'd leave this issue of proof for the gedolim to deal with.

> > -- no special job skills to take there
> This is the standard of living argument in another guise. I think I
> dealt with that above. But in any event, why does anyone think that
> (other than language) the job skills are any different there than they
> are here?

Because (a) population is denser and job variety is lower [thus making
some of the skills "unportable" or useless], (b) due to aliyah from
Eastern Europe the percentage of high-skilled work force is unusually
large [thus making the competition harder - less jobs and much more of
the prospective candidates to fill them in], (c) the place has even more
of the "old boy network" than US, and the newcomers are likelier to be
on the outside of it...

But the skills themselves are the same - just the ways to apply them
differ somewhat. And the market for those skills is a bit different.

Uri		<uri@...>

From: Azriel Winnett <winn@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 21:38:26 +0200
Subject: Aliya to Save Your Children

Carl Sherer wrote:

> Anyone who can find a job in the US can find one in Israel.
> There are very few unemployed American olim. 

As someone who remained unemployed for nearly six years after aliyah,
this statement hurts very, very much. (I'm not an American, but I don't
think that's relevant.) The pain, trauma and scars - not only financial,
but also emotional and psychological - defy description.

So if, in spite of everything, I can applaud Carl's sentiments, I trust
I will carry some credibility.

I'll even take it further. Carl's post focuses on parents who'll be
forced to put their children through a public school system if they
choose to remain in the diaspora. But what about those who're fortunate
enough to have their children in good, religious schools?

I sometimes like to quote in this connection a point made by Rav Dessler
in Michtav Mi'Eliyahu. He points out that the Mechilta on last week's
parsha, cited also in Yalkut Shimoni, states that Yisro imposed a
condition on Moshe Rabbenu in return for Tsippora's hand in marriage:
"The son who will be born to you first shall be for idolatry; from then
on, for Heaven."  Moshe took an oath in agreement.

Amazing?  But Rav Dessler points out that an oath is just another name
for a commitment; Moshe was merely accepting upon himself the
consequences of the reality of living in a heathen environment. Here, we
can see, concludes Rav Dessler, the impact of an environment even on
such a strong personality as Moshe Rabbenu.

This is indeed relevant not only for the present discussion, but also
for the thread on sending youngsters to College.

And as far as aliya is concerned - it's not for everyone, but our
brethren in the comfortable Western world should do some very serious

As for the very real and understandable fear of social isolation, I may
be forgiven for putting in a little "plug" here for my own community
here in Betar Illit. Our think our English-speaking community is pretty
unique (or for the linguistic purists, highly unusual) with regard to
both components of the phrase; any kind of kehilla (community) at all,in
the sense that we have them in Chutz L'Aretz (the diasapora) is very
rare in this country.

Anybody joining us shouldn't have to worry too much about the above
problem. (And we're busy raising funds for our own synagogue building,
if anybody wants to help!)

Azriel Winnett  

From: Dani Wassner <dani@...>
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 13:56:53 +0200
Subject: RE: Aliya to Save Your Children

Someone wrote:
> -- no grandparents will be there

To paraphrase Herzl: It is difficult to make aliya because of our
grandparents. But we must do it for the sake of our grandchildren.

Ministry of Industry and Trade
Investment Promotion Center

Dani Wassner
Publications and Economic Information
Ph: 972-2-622-0556    Fax: 972-2-622-2412
30 Agron St, Jerusalem 94190, ISRAEL

From: Yehuda & Rebecca Poch <butrfly@...>
Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2000 09:10:19 +0200
Subject: Aliya to Save Your Children

>> Perhaps:
>> -- language difficulties or lack of confidence about learning a new one

In Israel the government pays for language classes for new olim so that
they can learn Hebrew.  In addition, the best way to learn a new
language is to immerse yourself in it.  Simply walk up and down the

>Anyone who works in high tech does not need to speak Hebrew.  My wife
>works in technical writing and her environment is so English speaking
>that our computer at home (this one) is not even Hebrew enabled (by

I do not work in hi-tech.  I have held 5 jobs in Israel, and none of
them needed me to understand Hebrew.  For one, my level of Hebrew (not
the best in the world) came in handy but if need be I could have gotten
away without it.  For the other four, it never even became an issue.  I
have worked in a university, a yeshiva, as a research assistant, a
newspaper, and in pr.  The only place where Hebrew was even mentioned
was the university.  My wife has worked at three jobs here, and again,
Hebrew was not necessary at any.  Only her present job is remotely
connected to hi-tech.

>> -- no friends or social network there
>Anyone who is willing to consider coming on aliya and needs a social
>network in advance can get in touch with me. There is a support group
>list on the net for people making aliya. I have been active on it since
>it started seven years or so ago. BTW - we made aliya without it.

And outside of that internet support network, of which we are also a
part, you create your own social network in the place you are.  I have
plenty of friends here who came with no social network and created one
for themselves in the absorption center (where there are plenty of
anglos in some of them) and now use that same network to settle in
proper communities, find employment and make more friends.

>> -- no special job skills to take there

I had no special skills coming here either, beyond my ability to write
IN ENGLISH.  But there is a demand for that as well. I actually found it
easier to find work here than in either Toronto or New York.

>> -- unwillingness to uproot other children from their social networks
>Children are the most adaptable people in the world. Anyone with
>children under 12 probably has nothing to worry about. Anyone with
>children under 8 almost certainly has nothing to worry about.

And given that this thread was started by someone mentioning their kids
in public schools, I would think that uprooting kids from that social
network is precisely the reason why they SHOULD come on Aliyah.  There
is no social network here that is worse than public school in the states
for a Jewish kid.

Carl is absolutely right.  And frankly, I didn't come here because of my
kids.  I didn't have any when I came here.  I came here partly for
ideological reasons for myself, and partly because the woman I married
was already living here.  But I will add one other thing to this note.
I had decided long ago that my children would attend Jewish schools
regardless of where I live.  Had I lived in North America, my salary
would have been easily twice what it is here.  Living expenses would
have been about the same for most things (yes, food, clothing, and
housing are comparatively priced in Israel to what they are in the US or
Canada.) so I would have had twice the money in my pocket, right?
Wrong!  I would have had to pay 5 figures a year per kid for their
Jewish education.  That would have eaten up the difference just for the
two kids I currently have.  Here Jewish education is free and is a
matter of course.  Remove that massive expense from our financial
picture, and we come out about the same, or possibly ahead financially
here, even though we are making half the salary.

    \ ^ || ^ /       Yehuda and Rebecca Poch	    \ ^ || ^ /
     >--||--<       Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel	     >--||--<
    / v || v \         <butrfly@...>	    / v || v \


End of Volume 31 Issue 31