Do You Have Plans For Making Aliyah?

According to the Torah, all or most of the Jewish people will be moving to Eretz Yisroel in the future.

Do you have current plans to make Aliyah and move to Eretz Yisroel?

If no, why not or when do you plan on moving?

45 comments on “Do You Have Plans For Making Aliyah?

  1. To Menachem Lipkin: I respect your comments quite highly, and I feel as if I’ve almost gotten to know you and your family from your comments to various postings on this blog. I would really like to have the opportunity to visit you and your family the next time I travel to Israel. Do you live in Beit Shemesh – Ramat Beit Shemesh or that area?

    I would never say bad things about Eretz Yisroel, I am only commenting about the tough financial situation there and how difficult it appears for people there to make a living. This is similar to saying that Eretz Yisroel is only acquired through hardship, it’s not putting down the land itself, only warning realistically about the process of acquiring it, just as acquiring Torah knowledge is difficult even though Torah is geshmak.

    A married daughter of mine who lives in Florida with her husband and two young children is considering Aliyah next year or the year after through Nefesh B’Nefesh. Right now they are trying to figure out what their best options would be, in terms of setting up their respective employments and where to live.

    To Shua Cohen: I respect your comments quite highly too. I am sure that the Rav you mentioned is a Gadol B’Yisrael and a true source of Daas Torah. I am also sure that my Local Orthodox Rav is a Gadol too. I would not want to get into the argument of “my Gadol is bigger than your Gadol.”

    I do not want to get into an “ad hominem” argument and sling personal insults at anyone. Shua Cohen is 100% correct in his perspective that American and European and South African and Australian Jews should take Aliyah seriously.

    Right now Aliyah does not work for me and my husband. Aliyah does work for a lot of other people, including my daughter and son-in-law in Florida contemplating Aliyah next year.

  2. Menachem Lipkin:

    First off, please let me correct the link to your 2006 essay (as you have it above, it won’t work):

    http://www.beyondbt.com/2006/06/08/baal-teshuvas-and-aliyah/

    I very much appreciate what you wrote back in 2006 and I’m sorry that your essay was not listed as one of the links in “Related items” to the present post.

    Your comment here comes somewhat late, and I regret that many people who participated in this thread will not come back to read it (and will therefore miss the link to your excellent 2006 essay as well).

    I’m sure you realize that the naysayers will go to just about any lengths to justify remaining in their wonderfully comfortable American-golus. Those of us who dare to challenge them out of their complacency are rarely responded to on the merits of the argument, but are instead subject to emotional outpourings (often without any foundation in fact, as you have clearly demonstrated here) and assorted epithets (in this thread I was called “intolerant” and “humorously naive”). This is very sad.

  3. I really should consider it. :)

    Great discussion. I gave my views on the subject a while ago. Here: href=’http://www.beyondbt.com/2006/06/08/baal-teshuvas-and-aliyah’> Baal Teshuvas and Aliyah

    I just want to say a few words about Judy Resnick’s first comment.

    Thought these are her personal observations, Judy uses a lot of superlatives. “Nobody seems to be able to make a living”, “everybody walks around with a grim facial expression.”, and “none of them are managing financially.”

    I guess maybe wherever Judy was hanging out this could theoretically be true. (However, if it’s not absolutely true (even if it is) there are serious issues of Loshon Hora when it comes to talking about Eretz Yisrael.)

    Of course if Judy had visited my community, or the community where my brother and sister live, or many other communities I have spent time in she would never have been able to make these assertions.

    Yes, some things are harder here, but others are easier. On balance there’s less pressure of all sorts. (And of course, your living in Eretz Yisrael!) For an orthodox family, the elimination of Yeshiva tuition is almost incalculable. Yes, we make less money, but we need much less. Less stuff, older cars, less jewelry, etc.

    The kids in our neighborhood are thriving, many of them came as teens. We’ve been to many weddings of children of olim. They are the happiest, most joyous affairs. Almost everyone of these young couples is making their home here in Israel. (A counter to Judy’s assertion that Israelis would pick up and leave if they could. These kids are US citizens and can if the they want to.) At a wedding just last week a friend visiting from the US commented that there seems to be a qualitatively higher level of simcha at weddings here.

    So I would say that, among the folks I know, most people are making a living, most are happy and content, and most are managing financially. (Sometimes I don’t know how, but it seems to work.)

    As to your assertion that “I’ll bet if you offered the Israelis immigrant visas to any one of the booming first-world economies (U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Germany or Great Britain) there would be a stampede out”. Well, there are stats that many secular Israelis would leave if they could, and many have. There are also many recent reports that many of the those who have are and are desiring to come back.

    Anecdotally, I’ve met several young people, who have done a year or two of Civil Service in the US. Every one came back with a stronger commitment to living here and making a contribution.

    Judy, take a look at the pictures on my web site. Do these look like the grim-faced malcontents you described?

  4. FWIW, I’m old-fashioned, and I like the term “sh’eilas chacham”, rather than “asking Daas Torah”, because it seems to me that the latter term is sometimes over-used(see page 4, second paragraph, of link to article by RHS regarding RYBS’s preference in terminology, as related by R. Lamm).

    http://www.michtavim.com/KuntresBInyaneiPsakHalakha5766.pdf

    Be that as it may, R. Yaakov Kamenetsky’s Daas Torah/authoritative opinion, given in a specific case on the topic of moving to EY might seem suprising.

    One of the major educators and influences in the American Agudah spoke a few years ago, and related that he and his wife wanted to move to EY, and he went to ask his rebbe, R. Yaakov about this. R. Yaakov advised him against moving to Israel, because the rabbi and his wife grew up with secular studies in American yeshivos, and R. Yaakov felt that they would not adjust to the system regarding their children’s education. It is interesting that one of the rabbi’s daughters eventually did move to Israel, and is an educator in a Beis Yaakov there.

  5. Here is my last word on the subject…a modest proposal.

    Rabbi Heshy Welcher shlit”a, is listed as a Rabbinic adviser to Beyond Teshuva. I remember Rabbi Welcher from my few years at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in the 1980s, and even then he was highly regarded as an outstanding talmid chacham and poseik. Rabbi Welcher’s rebbe (the Rosh Yeshiva), HaRav HaGaon Henoch Liebowitz zt”l, wrote an incisive essay on the issue of daas Torah, an essay with which Rabbi Welcher is certainly familiar. Therefore, Rabbi Welcher is an authoritative Torah source with whom to discuss daas Torah [as well as to discuss other problematic assertions in comment no. 35].

    In a similar vein, Rabbi Welcher is an appropriate person with whom to discuss the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz in general, and whether aliyah may be appropriate for a specific family in particular. If the LOR with whom you (or anyone else) discussed aliayh is on the level of Rav Welcher, then kal hakavod to you.

  6. i am living in a very special small diaspora community in europe. we consider aliya nearly every day in our life, but time hasn’t come yet. our rabbeim didn’t give us the advice to go NOW. but i definitely know, that we want to end our days in ba’aretz and we hope that hashem grants us health and the strength to do so after retirement. language is not the problem since i speak hebrew and my children too. we work on to instill love for the land in our children and visit as often as we can. the main problem is economics and i pretty much experience from various people in israel how poverty can affect your emuna tremendously. i would hope we could be strong enough to bear this (since i know we would financially be on a very low level then) and that the positive impacts which are definitely there – being in our land, being surrounded with much more torah, gedolim and bnej torah and the like, then here –
    interesting for me is that for americans consider a 90 sq appartment seems to be small…

    may hkb”h give us the sekhus to settle there speedily.

  7. Shua,

    Are you aware that there are differences of opinion on the definitions and applicability of Daas Torah across the Orthodox spectrum?

  8. Mark:

    You wrote that “although Daas Torah includes gedolim, it is not limited to gedolim.”

    WOW! I find this statement stunning. Let me refer you to an article on “Daat Torah” in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, (Spring 2003), by Rabbi Alfred Cohen of Congregation Ohaiv Yisroel in Monsey and a Rebbe at Yeshiva University High School for Boys:

    “How do we know which rabbi is a true talmid chacham worthy of universal deference? Why was Rav Moshe Feinstein widely accepted as the posek for American Jewry, while others found their
    positions challenged? Somehow in each generation there is a prescience of who is truly the exceptional talmid chacham, fit to be leader of the generation. Maharit describes the generation’s leader as, “all honor him because of his Torah knowledge and stand [in honor] before him.” In our own days, we see that there is somehow an intuition of who is truly outstanding. Albeit it is possible to fool some of the community some of the time, over time, the true talmid chacham is recognized and acknowledged.

    “To some extent, it is hard to pin down the specifics of whose opinion qualifies as Daat Torah in the modern world, inasmuch as there are many contenders for the title..[and] inasmuch as there are such high standards for an individual to qualify as possessing Daat Torah.”

    Further on (in qualifying the limits of daas Torah) Rabbi Cohen then makes it clear who possess it:

    “Rav Moshe Feinstein was once asked about the propriety of a talmid chacham’s opening a yeshiva in Bnei Brak, home of the Chazon Ish…In his straightforward responsum, we see no hesitation
    about disagreeing even with a great sage, ‘albeit with proper respect.’ Which is to say that in the view of this great Torah luminary, Daat Torah is neither monolithic nor infallible. Nowadays there is no single group of all great Torah leaders, such as the Sanhedrin of old. In practice, then, people may choose (in personal, not communal matters) to follow the directives of this gadol or that gadol.”

    This Modern Orthodox scholar, RCA member and editor of the journal in which his article appeared, recognizes that one follows daas Torah when one follows the directives of a GADOL!

  9. Eric:

    Two points:

    This young couple consulted with a gadol b’Yisrael who had daas Torah. As I wrote to Belle in comment no. 31 (above), if a person consults with authentic daas Torah, then no one (including myself) has the right to challenge the resulting decision. The problem is that most people don’t even ask a shaila of anyone (concerning their personal circumstances vis-à-vis aliyah), not their LOR, let alone a gadol.

    Secondly, how did Reb Simcha console the young wife? By assuring her that she will be judged not by where she “is” (i.e. in America), but where she “belongs.” Her heart demonstrated that she knew she belonged in Eretz Yisrael, and not in golus.

  10. Shua,
    One can just as easily quote from the last 2 pages (199-200) of “Reb Simcha Speaks”:

    “Recently I had to advise a young couple to leave Eretz Yisrael and go back to Canada because of Parnassah problems-there they will be able to earn a living in such a way that they can dedicate much more time to Torah learning. Shortly after our conversation I received a telephone call from the young woman; she was anxious about the following question: “What will happen if Mashiach arrives while we are out of Eretz Yisrael?” She was thinking that perhaps they would be excluded from the whole process if they are not here. I answered as follows: “I am not sure whether Mashiach is going to be selective. However, if he is, I feel that he will be selective not on the basis of where a person is, but rather on where a person belongs.”

  11. Saying that a local Rabbi is Daas Torah is not saying that a local Rabbi is greater than a given Gedol. Why would you think that?

    Here’s a recap of some ideas:
    – Although Daas Torah includes gedolim, it is not limited to gedolim.
    – Often Gedolim whether they are Chazal, Rishonim, Achronim, or Roshei Yeshivas make conflicting statements. This is why bringing something in the name of Gadol is not a proof.
    – Much of the Gemora consists of statements by Gedolim even greater then Reb Simcha being challenged and subsequently refuted or clarified.
    – It is logical to many that a person should live where he and his family can grow the most spiritually.
    – That determination should be made by the individual with the guidance of those who know him and possess Torah knowledge.
    – For some the decision for now is Chutz L’Aretz and for some it is Eretz Yisroel.

  12. To Belle and Gary:

    Please read the following words very carefully, from a gadol b’Yisrael, HaRav HaGaon Simcha Wasserman, zt”l (from “Reb Simcha Speaks,” Artscroll, 1994):

    “Those who have returned are those whom Eliyahu [HaNavi] has selected to lead the Jewish people to the redemption of Mashiach…There is a selection going on now. Some people are being brought back, and some people, due to the high intermarriage and assimilation rate, are being thrown out. There are prophecies concerning this unfortunate fact. Those prophecies state that there will be members of the Jewish body who will be removed from it.” [pp. 33-34]

    How can one ignore this tzadik’s words? Time is running out and we must face the reality, as Reb Simcha did. The vast majority of Diaspora Jews are beyond saving and are not, in fact, prophetically destined to be saved. They are being “thrown out” by the Ribbono Shel Olam Himself. Incredible words, these, but they come from a gadol b’Yisrael. Maybe you choose to ignore them…I cannot.

    SECOND QUOTE from Reb Simcha:

    “Yaakov Avinu [said] to his sons, ‘I will show you what will happen in the end of days. There will be a ‘call!’ Hashem will just call us and we’ll come.’ This is what the Ribbono Shel Olam is showing us in our days. This is what so many of us have experienced. We see it.”

    Reb Simcha experienced it. Reb Simcha saw it: IN OUR TIME…TODAY…HASHEM HIMSELF IS CALLING US TO COME HOME. And so Reb Simcha left America and made Aliyah. HaRav HaGaon Mordechai Gifter zt”l, left America and made Aliyah. HaRav Aharon Feldman shlit”a (Rosh Yeshiva Ner Yisrael) made Aliyah. The Chafetz Chaim desperately wanted to make Aliyah. The Chazon Ish and HaRav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld begged bnei Torah in America to make Aliyah. This is DAAS TORAH. (I’m sorry Mark… I am baffled that you include the opinion of one’s LOR on the same level as these giants of Torah).

    Folks, I (an am ha’aretz) say nothing on my own. For years I too rejected the notion of making aliyah. But I began to study the issue [one should start with Kesuvos 110b]…I began to study what the gedolim in our generation not only said…but did.

    So, you can criticize me all you want…you can call me an intolerant, humorous naif. So be it. But I’ve got some pretty powerful voices upon whom to rely. It behooves every ben and bas Torah to do some serious homework on the issue of yishuv ha’aretz…one of the most crucial and overarching issues in these days of Ikvesa d’Meshichah.

  13. To Shua,

    Although the gedolim you mentioned were truly great, we are enjoined to consult our LOR for personal decisions — that is part of Torah. Our LOR hopefully knows us and our family.

    The intolerance accusation was based on your analogizing this generation living in golus to the 80% of Jews in Mitzrayim who did not merit redemption, and your dismissing as valid concerns the points raised by others, saying that they simply “lacked emuna.” Passion I can respect. Calling everyone who may come to a different conclusion than you based on their life circumstance as lacking in emuna is not only intolerant, it is humorously naive.

    However, I do respect your ardent love for the land of Israel.

  14. >> With all due respect, one’s Local Orthodox Rabbi is usually not daas Torah, and he should be fully willing to guide a questioner to the person who he believes is.

    I strongly disagree with this statement. There are many Orthodox Rabbi’s in America who are qualified to help with these types of life decisions and consulting with them would be considered consulting with Daas Torah.

  15. Belle:

    I don’t quite understand your characterization of those who ardently advocate for the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz as “intolerant.” Passionate certainly, but intolerant? I think not.

    I would like to question one assertion that you made, as follows: “we also consult daas torah.” Allow me to relate to you the following as an example: to the best of my knowledge, when Rabbi Shalom Gold shlit”a (former Rav of the Young Israel of West Hempstead and talmid of HaRav HaGaon Yaacov Yitzhak Ruderman, zt”l), decided to make aliyah in 1982, he consulted with no less than the Gadol HaDor Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l AND the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l. Now that’s consulting daas Torah! Tragically, we no longer have among us the level of gadolim as those who guided Klal Yisrael in the post-WWII era…and far be it for me to identify, for anyone else, who represents authentic daas Torah today. But, I think you get the point. With all due respect, one’s Local Orthodox Rabbi is usually not daas Torah, and he should be fully willing to guide a questioner to the person who he believes is.

    So, if you TRULY consulted daas Torah, no one (including myself) has the right to challenge your decision to remain in golus. But given the vital importance of aliyah in our generation, anyone who consults less than authentic daas Torah is, in my humble opinion, merely fooling themselves.

  16. I suggest the cessation of the talk about certain types of Jews being included among, and others being excluded from, those who are worthy to make aliyah or to be redeemed when the time comes, may it be speedily in our days.

    The four species of Sukkot (Lulav , Etrog, Aravot and Haddasim [Palm Branch, Citron, Willow branches and Myrtle branches}) represent all types of Jews, in unity. Only Hashem will conduct the assessments and execute the appropriate judgments at a time of His choosing.

  17. I am truly amazed at the intolerance of the “true believers.” I believe at this forum, we are all either believers in Torah or somewhat on that path, and therefore, I will guess that we all have a love and appreciation for the holiness and specialness of Eretz Yisroel. Having said that, it is astounding that Arik and Shua have the audacity to reprove those who have serious reservations about moving their families to E”Y with accusations of “rationalizing” and not being serious about Torah. Many big rabbonim here and in Erets Yisroel advise couples not to make aliyah if their children are over the age of 7 or 8, as they are witness to the huge fallout, many many American kids who have rebelled or are completely off the derech due to “integration issues” that Shua Cohen lightly dismisses.

    Similarly, parnassah issues are not to be taken lightly, as poverty in Israel is rampant among some sectors of the religious, and devastating to shalom bayis and the chinuch of their children. Are you so starry eyed that you don’t recognize this reality? It is going on around you!!

    We do have emunah; however we also consult daas torah and have the ultimate G-d given responsibility to take care of our families. We are trying (and hopefully succeeding) to raise G-d fearing and loving children who seek to give nachas to the Ribono shel Olam, just like those in E”Y.

    When I lived in E”Y, I also heard much of the discussion about the Yidden who refused to move to E”Y, and heard some pretty over the top judgments about them. In my youthful enthusiasm (and may I add, naivete), I went along with the hyperbole and fear mongering, similar to what Arik writes. I discovered, however, that life goes on, and instead of making major moves in life based on fear or thrill, it is very very important to be deliberate, esp when a whole family’s welfare will be affected. When someone is a single, it is much easier to just “make the move” if he or she so desires. It is not so simple afterwords.

  18. Mark:

    An honest answer. I believe I understand (and therefore appreciate) where you are coming from and where you are presently holding. You and your family should be m’chazaik on the road that you are taking.

  19. Shua,

    People have to be honest about where they and their families are holding, we’re not all at the same level in all things.

    For me, these are issues, but I’m glad that you’ve gotten past them.

  20. Mark Frankel: Thank you for your comments. They represent for the readers here the perfect examples of the excuse/rationalization approach to the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz. You recognize that “all things being equal,” Eretz Yisrael is the ultimate place to be. But then, zingo, you negate that EMES with your follow up that “all things are not equal,” for the sole purpose of rationalizing NOT choosing Eretz Yisrael.

    1) Schooling? Hey, little to no tuition and a wide variety of educationak hashkafas to choose from.

    2) Intolerance? You’ve got to be kidding. Please advise me of any place in the world where there isn’t intolerance. And this issue would compel you to spurn Hashem’s Eretz HaKodesh? My oh my.

    3) Parnassah? Please help me to understand something. We say that one’s parnassah is determined by Hashem on Rosh Hashanah. Are you suggesting that this is only true in golus? But if a yiras Shamayim makes aliyah, the Ribbono shel Olam will not provide what is exactly needed by you and your family to succeed? (chas v’shalom). That demonstrates a decided lack of basic emunah and bitachon.

    4) Children’s integration? If your children have been imbued with a love of Eretz Yisrael and an appreciation for the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz, this (ideally) should be little/less of a problem. And again, Chazal tell us that success with children depends entirely on Hashem and your own emunah and bitachon that He will help them succeed.

    I remind one and all of Chazal’s teaching that three things are acquired only through STRUGGLE: Torah, Ha’Olam Haba and ERETZ YISRAEL. Why oh why do so many want/expect Eretz Yisrael to be handed over to them on a silver platter, when Chazal tell us explicitly that it doesn’t happen that way? But of course, one can avoid the struggle with an arsenal of excuses to do so…that’s the tragic reality. As Rav Yosef Chaim warned us (see comment no. 10), this generation’s greatest “FAILURE” is its “VOLUNTARILY” remaining in golus and refusing to take up the struggle to live in Eretz Yisrael (Rachmana Litzlon).

  21. sp613, I agree that all things being equal, Israel is the place to be spiritually. But all things are not equal and moving to Israel is a big step, and a person needs to take big steps with the proper thought and deliberation. The big issues to me are schooling, intolerence, parnassah and my teen age children’s integration issues.

  22. Mark, you don’t always know where you’re going to grow spiritually until you try it. Israel is pretty special. Our surroundings have an effect on us, even when we don’t notice it or expect it.

    Things are not always easy here. They’re not always easy in the U.S. either. I am glad a college friend convinced me to make Aliyah. I was a hard sell — but she knew the right hook!

  23. To Shua:

    Thank you for your kind words. The truth is that I do not like to post on public forums, nor do I typically have the time to write. This is my last post….I am just too busy with family and work now. I hope that the info from my aliyah experience helps. However, if anyone wants more information on aliyah from America from someone who (I think) mastered the system here, I would be glad to help anytime. You can ping me at arikcohen61 at aim.com.

    I sincerely hope there will be a mass immigration to Israel from the USA in my lifetime. It will certainly strengthen the country like the Russian aliyah of the mid 90s. BTW I am registered as a volunteer for NBN for Northern Israel.

  24. My Rebbeim 24 years ago and my Rebbeim now give the same sensible and logical Torah-based answer – “You should live where you and your family will grow the most spiritually”.

    All things being equal that would be Eretz Yisroel. But all thing are not equal, so each individual/family needs to soul search to make that decision.

  25. “Arik” (hey, you should really use your own name and be proud of it):

    I don’t know if Nefesh b’Nefesh is hiring, but you sure would be one heck of a spokesman for the cause. While your comments tend to be lengthy, I really hope that people have the patience to read them through; it’s well worth it.

    You are oh so right about the need to speak out without fear of being “politically correct.” Indeed, too many “religious” Jews are so mired in their golus mentalities that they will jump on you…sometimes maliciously…for challenging their glib excuses (rationalizations really) for staying in golus-America. (I know wherefore I speak; I’ve been attacked on numerous threads for steadfastly promoting massive Aliyah). It causes guilt complexes to hear the truth from those of us who won’t keep their “traps shut.” But please continue to speak out. Yasher Koach!

    A final word. Chazal tell us that — replicating the original redemption from Mitzrayim — only 20% of Jews will merit to make Aliyah during the final geula. It is self-evident that assimilated, reform and conservative Jews will make up the vast majority of the 80% who will disappear into golus. But, I have grave trepidation concerning those of Am Yisrael who are supposedly bnei Torah, and yet who will be left behind as well, due to their lack of emunah and bitachon in Hashem’s ability to help them succeed with Aliyah.

  26. I just went back to the article, Hard Time in a Hard Holy Land, by Ron Coleman, posted on March 12, 2007. That posting, plus the 111 comments, sums up a wide spectrum of views on Aliyah.

    Not that we can’t revisit that subject three years later, these being three quite momentous years in world history (the recession, the American presidential election). Plus it gives people new to this blog, like myself, a chance to express an opinion.

    Ron Coleman’s article from 2007 gave a superb overview of the various segments of Israeli Orthodox Jewish society, and how they differ from their American counterparts. His assessment of the cultural and sociological divides is amazingly accurate. The 111 comments on his posting give a very wide spectrum of thought on the Aliyah issue.

  27. Just a few comments on your posts, when I made aliyah, or should I say that when I decided to stay in Israel, there was no community of American Olim that I could get support from in Haifa. Certainly, no Nefesh b’Nefesh. In Haifa, most were pensioners that were involved in AACI. Until today, I have few American friends. Frankly when I decided to stay, I just threw myself into the cold water and vowed to become an Israeli (even though I am still an outsider to many native Israelis). I made a lot of native Israeli friends who helped me adjust to the system here. I always said to the few American olim in the coldest terms, which I met over the years, that if you want a successful aliyah, forget that you were ever American.

    Now for those of you holding off aliyah on the basis of financial considerations only, as seem to be case from many of these posts, I hate to break your bubble but you may have already missed the cheap boat……

    Real Estate: Consider that up until 2 years ago, the Israeli economy was dollar based, namely all real estate contracts were executed in USD and converted to shekels on the day of payment. For aliyah-bound Americans, this was the most optimal situation. However the day of the dollar is over and even if the dollar recovers, the Israeli real estate market is now shekel-based. I personally lived through this transformation, since I was selling and buying Israeli real estate just at the time when the US security market collapsed in 2008 and drank a lot of Maalox. Note that the rate of the shekel to dollar nearly touched 5 a few years back and during the crash, the shekel revalued to nearly 3.2. It is now hovering at 3.7-3.8 NIS/USD. When this transition took place in the Israeli real estate market, all real estate price in dollars were de-facto converted to shekels at an unofficial rate of 4 between 8/2008 to 12/2008 (that was the scale that everyone was used since I had been in contact daily with real estate agents during that time), and since then, properties in shekels have gone up some 20% as Israelis wanted to protect their excess shekel reserves by dumping them into any available real estate for investment, since the banks here, as in the USA, pay nearly zero interest for low risk “CDs”. Israelis do not want to know from dollars today in real estate transactions. Couple that with the European Jews who are directly feeling anti-semitism are also buying up real estate here like crazy. I personally know of three young Israeli couples, who cannot find a modest apartment to buy in Haifa after searching for months. Hence, as you were reading there in the papers that the US real estate market was in the doldrums, we were seeing completely opposite trends here in almost a supernatural way over the last year. Finally to put my personal experience in an American perspective, I sold my 1st apartment in Haifa in Aug. 2008 for the exact SAME price in dollars that I bought it in Jan. 1996. Since I bought my second house in March 2009, if I were to sell it today in convert back to dollars, I would have a profit of over 40% in dollars.

    Health Care: I watch the transformation of the USA to a socialist society under Obama and his henchmen almost like a Greek tragedy. In Obama’s attempt to bring affordable health care to everyone and some pundits use the Israeli system as an example…. What they are not telling you is that the drug costs in Israel are nearly a factor of 7-8 times cheaper than the USA and the concentration of doctors to general population in Israel is one of the highest in the world (B“H) so the wait time to see a doctor is very short. I call my doctor on his cell and he tells me to come within a few hours…worst case the next day. Add 30 million uninsured to the US system and you will be waiting months to see a doctor for the common cold in some parts of the USA. A most notable example, my parents are pensioners living in Florida. My mother takes 6 medications quite common for someone pushing 70. While here in Israel last July, I took her to my doctor who wrote her a prescription for a six month supply for just two of her six medications … very common drugs… and this saved my mother ONE THOUSAND USD just on two of her medications only.

    Price of Goods between USA and Israel: When I first came to Israel in 1991, prices were a factor of 2-3 cheaper in the USA across the board. I just traveled with my family on a weekend vacation to Paris in the last half of Hanukkah to meet some friends and prices there were 1.5-2 times more expensive than Israel. I just returned last week from a business trip to San Francisco and New York City. I can honestly say that except for a pair of ECCO dress shoes that were about $70 cheaper in the San Francisco ECCO factory store compared to the price in the Haifa Grand Canyon shopping mall 5 blocks from my house, the prices in the USA for food, restaurants and basic goods were almost the same as in Israel. Gasoline still remains a factor of 2 times more expensive than the USA but less than Europe, and cars still have 100% import taxes on base sticker prices rendering them twice the price as the USA. A Toyota Corolla costs about 110,000 NIS last time I checked.

    Taxes: I still pay 2 times more income tax to Israel for the same income as I would for pay if I had earned the same salary in the USA. However, it will be interesting to see after a year when Americans start to really pay for all their debt excesses and Obama’s stimulus package what will happen to this gap.

    My dear brothers and sisters….kabbalists have been predicting a collapse of the USA either economically, physically and/or both for years now…and I have read articles a few years back that the USD will soon be worth nothing. I didn’t believe it then, but it looks like that degradation is happening now in all sectors of the US economy. American Jews had an easy way of making an aliyah financially to Israel…those gates are now closing. Even if you are considering aliyah in the future, get your assets into Israel NOW, get them out of USD NOW, buy Israeli real estate NOW, get an economic foothold in Israel NOW,…and for G-d’s sake….stop thinking that nothing will happen to America. Look at the way Obama rose to power in the most supernatural way. Look at the socio-economic similarities between the USA today and pre-Nazi Germany. The parallels are astounding. When this balagan happens…. and it will, who knows what will be left of your American fortunes. As always, the scapegoats will be the Jews. Look what Hashem is doing to get the rest of the tribe over here. The 2008 crash already had tons of Israeli yordim to the USA scrambling back to Israel with their tails between their legs. Learn from 2000 years of history in the galut when the Jews became too complacent in their host countries!!!!! Time is running out for American Jews to move here in a civilized and dignified manner!!!!! Sorry to be so blunt, but I have felt this way for years now and I can no longer keep my trap shut for fear of not being “politically correct”. Since you are a religious crowd, maybe you will listen ?????

  28. When comparing life here to life in Israel, we often think in terms of living space. Let’s look at an example given by one of our posters.

    Arik Cohen in # 12 mentions the dimensions of his several homes. Bearing in mind that 1 sq meter = 10.75 sq ft., I have done some calculations to spare the rest of us some head scratching:

    90 sq. meter apt. = 967.5 sq ft.
    140 sq. meter apt. = 1505 sq. ft.
    60 sq. meter yard = 645 sq. ft.

    My 2 storey, 3 bedroom house in NYC is 43 feet long (13.1 m) and 14 feet, 10 inches wide (4.5 m). The total area is 1275.7 sq. ft., or 118.7 sq. meters. (I am not counting the basement.) My house could be converted to a 4 bedroom, with enough space for two adults and 4 – 5 children.

    Had I “gotten by” in a place the size of Arik Cohen’s first apartment, I wouldn’t have been that much more cramped; if I move into a place the size of Arik Cohen’s current apartment, I wouldn’t know what to do with all the space.

  29. I would like to thank the author of this article for bringing up the issue of the Chova of Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. Arik Cohen hits the nail on the head when he mentions that the main reason for people not making aliyah is poor rabbinical leadership.It was 10 tribal leaders in “the sin of the spies” who discouraged the nation to enter the land and a minority of 2 tribal leaders who strengthened the aliyah movement of their time. The “sin of the spies” was not a one-time event,but something that has continued to occur throughout the generations.Rav Kook responded to someone who asked him a shailah about making Aliyah that it is forbidden to even ask such a shailah – it is upon us to fulfill this obligation.

  30. There is no doubt that we should at least be thinking about aliyah, be concerned about the internal and external challenges facing Israel and freely acknowledge that the quality of life for a Ben and/or Bas Torah is far better in Israel than anywhere in the US-providing that one can find a real niche in the admittedly polarized Charedi and RZ worlds. RAL once advised a couple who were divided on the issue that it was better to live in Chutz LaAretz and think about life in Israel than to live in Israel and think about life in Chutz LaAretz.As R Wein once commented, one of the great needs for Israel was a large influx of frum American olim. Nefesh BNefesh deserves a huge Yasher Koach for facilitating this dream, especially in this economy.

  31. To Judy Resnick:

    Your son an daughter-in-law should be made aware of the words of the Chazon Ish, zt”l, in the following story, as quoted by Rabbi Zev Leff in his essay: “Where is the Religious Aliya from the West.”

    A yeshiva student from the diaspora who had been learning in an Israeli yeshiva came to bid farewell to the Chazon Ish before returning to his home. “Is one permitted to leave Eretz Yisroel?” the gadol asked him. The student stammered and replied, “I understood that if one came to Eretz Yisroel with the intention of returning eventually, he is permitted to leave.” The Chazon Ish spoke in a tone of disappointment: “We are trying to devise methods to get bnei Torah to settle here and you are involved in finding ways to be able to leave?!” (Peer Hador, vol. II, p. 42)

    Also, while it is true that Rav Miller, zt”l, was
    generally opposed to aliyah, he was a “das yachid” on this issue and admitted that many disagreed with him [see Shabbos Droshos, 14 Tayves 5756, Vayechi]. I don’t know who your LOR in Bayswater is, but if he is a talmid chacham and gadol b’Yisrael (the only type of Rav who I would trust with such a momentous shaila) and he tells you what you want to hear, then so be it. It’s on his shoulders.

  32. “Arik Cohen”:

    All I can say is “WOW!” Your’s is one of the most powerful testimonies that I have read lately concerning the importance of the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz and what it is to be a true ba’al emunah. Chazal teach that there are three things that are so valuable that they can be acquired only through struggle: Torah, the World to Come and ERETZ YISRAEL (Brachos 8b). You put all of the “excuse-mongers” to shame.

    Twenty-five years ago, the Rav of the Young Israel in the neighborhood in which I then lived — a talmid muvhak of HaRav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l, Rosh yeshiva of Chaim Berlin — told me that the biggest claim that the Ribbono Shel Olam will have against our generation is that we did not make aliyah en masse. Our “L’shana haba b’Yerushalayim” has become an empty platitude as we cling to our overly comfortable golus existense in America.

    You and the adventurous souls who today board their Nefesh b’Nefesh flights are the true ba’alei emunah who will hasten the final geula. You have walked the walk and not just talked the talk, like so many in America, about their love for the Eretz HaKodesh… yeah…so long as they don’t have to move there.

    Thank you “Arik” for your words of inspiration. Tragically, they will fall on mostly deaf ears.

  33. We have no plans to make aliyah at any time in the forseeable future. My wife would make about 30% of her current income and would therefore have to default on her medical school loans which is an issur d’oraita! And I would not be able to get any job whatsoever in academia. We may retire to Eretz Yisrael, God willing.

  34. IIn order to be able to relate personal stories and that of others based on my experience, I will keep my name anonymous. Let’s say I am Arik Cohen. I am not a particularly religious Jew. Just a quick background summary….Born in NYC. Grew up in NJ within the framework of the US Reform movement meaning my Judaism was defined by the number of bagels and lox I ate in a given week. I received a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from Columbia and move to Israel on a dare from an Israeli friend after he sparked my ire when he claimed that as a typical American, I would never cross the Hudson River to explore the world outside of NYC. With that after finishing my Ph.D., I decided to come to Israel at the age of 30 with $5000 in my pocket, a Ph.D., not knowing a word of Hebrew to do 1 year postdoc at an Israeli university. Here’s what happened: My 1st trip to the Western Wall in my life, I put a petek in the wall asking for a wife (this is after I spent 5 years dating every eligible Jewess in the City of New York to no avail). 4 days later in the Jerusalem YMCA (of all places), I met my Brazilian wife. She is not American and we got married by a Chabadnik in Brazil. We both decided to stay in Israel for the year of my postdoc, which became two years. That was 18 years ago. We struggled financially …. bought one apartment with salaries that are ¼ that of my American counterparts (at that time). We raised two Israeli kids: son and a daughter in a 90 sq meter third floor walk up with no elevator. Professionally over time, I started working for Intel in Israel and it was here our team entirely developed the Wi-Fi cards deployed in Centrino changing personal communications worldwide. I often asked myself if I would have had such a professional success had I stayed in the USA. My wife and I recently bought a new 140 sq m apartment with a 60 sq m garden with lemon and orange trees, and terrace with a view to the Med. It is still ¼ of the size of the house I grew up in NJ. Everyday I walk the land here, I thank G-d. Israel has truly been good to me.

    Being self taught in Judaism, I still do not keep mitzvot, but study Torah regularly. With little Jewish knowledge in comparison to the people on this forum, it always remains an anathema to me how religious Diaspora Jews still manage to justify their staying in the galut when it is a clear commandment to make aliyah. The Land of Israel was a gift from our father above and not living here is akin to spitting in his face. Moreover, I can understand the personal reasons for not living here, but there should be a clear vector in wanting and yearning to be here which is severely lacking in most sectors of the worldwide Jewish religious population. I sort of look at it this way: if we are commanded to be here, and G-d makes it very unappealing to be here (at least on the surface), then isn’t the highest level of REAL emunah to say that I will trust in G-d to grant me safety and parnassa in the land of Israel (that doesn’t mean a house big enough to land an airplane in, and three cars in the garage).

    Finally, a few things came to mind when reading the comments in this thread. First, a very famous rabbi I know associated with Aish HaTorah, who owns a little apartment in the Old City of Jerusalem, ex-American, said to me quite clearly that ALL of the problems the Jews have today are the fault of the rabbis of today, particularly on the issue of aliyah. Secondly, I drive from Haifa to meet every few months with a Charedi rabbi, who is a good personal friend, for dinner at one of the best Chinese restaurant in Jerusalem. Ironically, his personal forte as a rabbi is the study of Jewish Eschatology from the sources (Zohar, Talmud, Tanahk, and writings of kabbalists). After making my usual snide comments about how study End of Days material on a daily basis does bring depression, we then started to talk about how it seems that with the brewing situation in Iran, the big bang called Gog U’Magog is almost upon us. (Personally, we both give it to Pesach if not next week during Purim for hell to break loose with Paras(Iran) triggering the War of Gog u’Magog.) I challenge you all to study the prophecies regarding the USA and the West and particularly for the future of the Jews there, which is not rosy (not that we won’t pass through hell here in Israel before Moshiah). Note that it is written in the Talmud that 80% of the Israelites who decided to stay in Egypt at the time of the Exodus died in the plague of darkness.….likewise it will be the same situation in the End of Days. That verse reverberated in my head when I read that 80% of American Jews voted Obama…….

    The point of this post is that 1) if a Jew has real emuna, is not materialistic, and is determined to make a successful aliyah, Israel can be a wonderful place to live; and 2) given the dynamics of anti-semitism of the world today, that all of the signs indicate the coming of Moshiah is imminent coupled with the prediction of collapse of the USA and its possible destruction (the 2008 stock market collapse was just the opening act), you will probably be forced to make aliyah for the sake of your own survival. The Breslov head in Israel, Rav Shalom Arush was quoted a year ago as saying that “Those who don’t come to Israel while they still can may be lucky to escape from the USA with a plastic bag and a pair of pajamas.”

    Shabbat Shalom

  35. But is Aliyah right now the right thing?

    For years, my husband and I were members of the kehillah of Rav Avigdor Miller, zatzal. Rav Miller was generally opposed to Aliyah, advising young couples not to move there, saying, “Let your dollars go to Israel, not you” (that is, donate tzedakah to poor needy families in Eretz Yisroel). Our current rav in Bayswater also is not in favor of Aliyah.

    My married son and daughter-in-law who are currently living in Yerushalayim might end up returning to the U.S.A. rather than living there permanently. They are guided not by financial considerations, but by choosing whatever Yeshiva Gedola offers the best learning opportunity for my son. If that special Yeshiva is in Australia or in Yerushalayim or in the U.S.A., that’s where he’s going to go, along with his wife.

  36. “The funny thing, every time I considered making Aliyah, some expert told me it was the wrong time in my life.”

    So tell us Judy, were any of these “experts” a competent Rav to whom you asked a shaila? If not…hmmm…it’s not a funny thing at all… rather a tragedy.

    As the venerable Rav of Jerusalem, Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt”l, wrote: “Many times have I directed that the religious Jews in the diaspora be instructed that anyone who has the ability to come to Eretz Yisrael and doesn’t, will have to account for his FAILURE in Haolam Haba.” [Ha’ish Al Hachoma, vol. II, p. 149]

    Only a competent Rav could have helped you to assess your ability to make Aliyah at each stage of your life. All of your so-called “experts” did nothing more than echo, through the millenia, the negative sentiments of the Meraglim [Parshas Shelach]. You need to rectify your listening to these modern-day meraglim by doing the right thing now.

  37. The funny thing, every time I considered making Aliyah, some expert told me it was the wrong time in my life.

    When I was a single young woman, somebody pointed out to me that the highest rate of Aliyah failure (e.g., giving up and leaving Israel) was among single young women.

    When my husband and I were first married, somebody told us it was best to wait until we had more years of experience in our respective professions to make ourselves more valuable in the Israeli job market.

    When my husband and I started having children, somebody told us that it was best to wait until we had five children, then my husband would not have to serve in the Israeli Army, only in the reserves.

    When we bought a house, somebody told us it would be best to wait until the house increased in value, then we could sell the house and make enough money to buy an apartment in Israel.

    When our children were babies and toddlers, somebody told me that the costs of full-time daycare and Gan in Israel swallow up most of an Israeli working mom’s take home salary.

    When our kids started getting older, somebody told us it would be a major disruption for them to uproot them and force them to start learning Ivrit and getting used to a whole different school system. Better to wait until the kids were grown and out of the house.

    When our kids were grown, somebody told us to wait until retirement, then we would have American pensions and American Social Security checks and income in American dollars, rather than trying to earn an Israeli income.

    Now that we’re older, it’s still the wrong time to make Aliyah. Our grandchildren and married children staying in the U.S.A. will miss us too much, and our combined savings and pensions will not be enough to make ends meet over there. Plus the sale price of our house will not cover the cost of an apartment.

    So when is it the “right” time to make Aliyah?

  38. Yep, I plan to make aliyah in a year or so. Although economic conditions are harsher in general there, for someone younger and just starting out like myself, the economy is pretty awful here too.

    I think there’s a lot to be said in making aliyah as a single or a young married couple starting out rather than when you’re middle age with older kids.

  39. It also says somewhere in Navi (possibly Sefer Yeshaya) a sentence that goes, “I will bring your sons from far, and your daughters from the ends of the earth.” Also in Navi is the famous line about bringing the exiles back on “wings of eagles” (“kanfei nesharim”). The Jewish Agency used to have wall posters with these Tanach quotes. When the Ethiopian Jews were brought over to Israel on specially modified El Al planes, they believed it was in fulfillment of this Tanach verse, “wings of eagles.”

  40. The Torah is pretty explicit about the gathering of the exiles.
    Here’s Parshas Nitzavim – Chapter 30 – Verses 1-5: (from chabad.org)

    1. And it will be, when all these things come upon you the blessing and the curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart, among all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you.
    2. and you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children.
    3. then, the Lord, your God, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the Lord, your God, had dispersed you.
    4. Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the Lord, your God, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there.
    5. And the Lord, your God, will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed, and you [too] will take possession of it, and He will do good to you, and He will make you more numerous than your forefathers.

    What’s pretty exciting is that at this point of time, close to half the Jews live in Eretz Yisroel, so we are seeing the gathering of the exiles right before our eyes.

  41. I suppose we can only muse about how our lifestyle would fit in Israel because at present we feel safe staying in America; should the political climate ever deteriorate seriously, I guess we’d be happy to get to Israel nomatter what. As for my family, we tried aliya some years ago (as conservative Jews) but turned back after a year. It looks to me like Jews making aliya today have a lot more support through Nefesh b nefesh than we had back then. That makes me want to give it another try.

  42. Once again, Gary is correct.

    I would feel a lot better about future Aliyah if my home were worth more. Our Bayswater neighborhood houses are not worth as much as Flatbush or Boro Park houses, and the current recession lessened most real estate values. If I could sell my U.S.A. house for two million and with that money after taxes have enough to buy a home in an Orthodox neighborhood in Israel and still have something left over, that would be a big incentive to make Aliyah.

    I have also heard about those professionals who “commute” by El Al regularly to the U.S.A. for their parnasa. In fact, I was in contact with an attorney who is now doing this, still running his U.S.A. office and coming in occasionally to supervise. That’s an extremely big expense. For those who gripe about the subway fare going up from $2.25 to $3 or the commuter rail fares increasing, taking El Al round trip for at least a thousand bucks a month has got to hurt.

    I’ve just heard of too many “yordim” (people leaving Israel because of the tough financial situation) to want to contemplate Aliyah in the near future.

    Lastly, I remember reading about two widowed sisters who made Aliyah together. They were both great-grandmothers already, ages 95 and 97. They had made a considerable donation previously to an assisted-living facility, which is where they were going to live. I don’t know if making Aliyah at 95 is exactly going to help the state of Israel, unless you consider that the great-grandchildren might want to visit and spend money there.

  43. “According to the Torah, all or most of the Jewish people will be moving to Eretz Yisroel in the future.”

    This seems like a quote pulled out of nowhere. Where “in the Torah” does it say this?

  44. Aliyah is part of my plans, about 3 – 4 years from now.

    Some of the more “successful” olim with whom I am acquainted generally went in recognizing a need to change their lifestyles from the American mode to the Israeli mode. By this I mean small living quarters, having few or no cars per family, relying on public transit or one’s own power to get around, and changing eating and drinking habits.

    There is one friend who has kept much of his American way of life, but he went at the age of 70-something with three American pensions and social security.

    My third and last example is the friend who commutes to the States for half of every month. It works for him, but it has no appeal for me!

    For middle aged boomers such as myself and Judy, I imagine the economic picture would be influenced by how much American cash will flow to us, less whatever is diverted to other family members who are dependent upon us.

    The psycho/socioeconomic picture that I have of Israelis is paradoxical. There are lots of grim faces, and lots of people leaving, but the Israeli economy is in the process of being reclassified from emerging to developed. Hopefully, more and more Israelis will realize the financial benefits of that shift.

    More important than economic statistics, here is an intersting item on the happiness of Israelis. The writer,Spengler, tells us that Israelis have a high birth rate and a low suicide rate; Israel is the only country with this combination. Spengler says that if a nation loves life (i.e., people have lots of kids) and hates death (i.e., suicide is not widely utilized as an escape), it is a home to happy people.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JE13Ak01.html

    From another perspective, I think we will be better off as individuals and as a people if we make aliyah when we want to rather than when we have to.

  45. I went to Israel for two weeks in March 2008 for the wedding of my son. Going there and seeing the reality of everyday Israeli life made me drop long-held dreams of making Aliyah. Life appears pretty harsh over there. Nobody seems to be able to make a living; everybody walks around with a grim facial expression. I met some former neighbors at my son’s wedding and none of them are managing financially. I’ll bet if you offered the Israelis immigrant visas to any one of the booming first-world economies (U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Germany or Great Britain) there would be a stampede out, and nobody would be left except for the idealistic olim originally from those countries. Maybe if one day I win the Powerball lottery or become a bestselling novelist I can take my millions of dollars and move to Israel. Otherwise I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go on Aliyah.

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