|During the course of my life, I served as an aliyah shaliach 3 times. When first meeting a potential oleh, I would try to get to know the individual and see what his/her plans for aliyah entail. We would then build a plan for aliyah preparation. In that initial interview, I would try to size up the oleh and define for myself what the potential was for his/her successful aliyah.|
What does it take to succeed to be absorbed into another country? One must be able to earn a livelihood, connect to a community within which one lives, connect into a community within which one must work, feel that one is fulfilling a necessary purpose in life, feel good with their own self-image.
In order to see if one will succeed, I measured 5 parameters in each oleh. Each parameter had its own level of one to five. If one of the parameters was low, a higher level in a different parameter could compensate for the lack in a different category. A low level in all areas was a sign to me that the aliyah would likely not succeed. A high level in all areas would indicate probable future success.
What were the areas that I would check?
1. Financial resources: If one had a good amount of savings put aside for the move – let us say enough funds to support a move and family expenses for two years, then the amount of time available for the family to acclimate without excess pressure gives them a safety net to arrange everything that must be put into place for a healthy adjustment and absorption into Israel society.
When one feels pressured in time, hasty and even rash decisions are made. Pressure, tension, and anxiety build up. This adds more pressure to the family environment and decision-making process. The potential for making bad decisions increases and the danger of falling into a panic or depressed situation increases. Therefore, the more financial resources available during the transition period the higher the score.
2. Ability to convert employment skills to the Israeli market: If the professional skills one has are easily converted into a job in Israel, it can help one achieve success in two major positive areas. It can lead to financial stability at an early stage of the aliyah process. It can also let one achieve a positive and successful self-image, or feeling of elevated self-esteem.
A social worker in the USA who has only a BA, does not speak Hebrew, has never visited Israel, and has no Israeli friends or relatives is highly unlikely to find a job quickly in Israel.
A team leader at Intel in the USA who has collaborated with other teams internationally and is familiar with Intel Israel's projects and teams – who also speaks Hebrew – is very likely to find a job very quickly when in Israel if not even before arrival.
In short if one has the professional skills and tools to enter the job market quickly in Israel, financial security and strong self-image will be increased with a high score
3. Hebrew Language: Although it is possible to function in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, without perfect knowledge of Hebrew, knowing the language well is certainly a strong advantage. It is helpful in finding work, finding friends and social circles within which to function, and helps in feeling secure and adjusted within your surroundings. The better one masters the language the more secure, socially, financially and culturally he/she will be.
4. Knowing how the society functions: Israel is a modern Western democracy. However, many of the systems and rules of the society are not exactly the same in Israel as in other countries. This is true with regards to laws, customs, and societal/cultural norms. For example, if one were to talk to a group of friends from northern-European origin who moved to Israel and stand very close to the person they were addressing while gesticulating vigorously, the northern-Europeans would probably feel uncomfortable. If one were addressing friends who originated from Mediterranean countries and stood many feet distant without any gesticulation, they might feel offended. How one waits on line in Israel is not how one would wait on line in Great Britain. Dealing with banks is different than banks in the USA. Licensure for professions and businesses is different in different countries, how the health system functions is not the same in different countries, etc.
What is even more difficult is that the seeming similarities between Israel and other Western countries tend to allow one to think that the systems are similar and one should react in the same way he/she did at home. In fact, the exact opposite might be the reality, causing disastrous results or at least a faux pas. The more one knows the laws of the land, the rules of society, the restrictions of social behavior, licensure for employment – the better and faster one will adjust to the country.
5. Friends, relatives, contacts and mentors: The more contacts – both close and casual – one has in Israel to assist in advice, mentoring, introducing and explaining, the better one will acclimate to Israel. Certainly if the contacts can offer you a job, apartment for rent, or escort to official meetings the help would be enormous. But even explanations and direction can very much assist in finding ones way in absorption to Israel.
As a shaliach, I could never help one with his/her personal financial situation. I could help people understand what is involved in finding employment in their profession and direct them to investigate the employment market in their area of endeavor. I would help them to connect with those employed in their field, potential employers, employment agencies, and olim organizations set up to help in understanding their field of employment. I would also make sure that they understood the legal requirements necessary to work in their field in Israel. The more one knows what one must do to be employable, the more one prepares oneself for arrival in Israel including taking additional needed courses, the more one makes acquaintances with potential work colleagues and employers – the better one is prepared for aliyah.
Materials in print and online concerning all aspects of life in Israel are readily available. Learning about the banking, health, educational, legal, tax, systems in Israel is possible years in advance of the aliyah move. Living in Israel for programs and short periods of vacation allows one to acclimate and prepare in bite-size chunks years before actual aliyah. What is more important is making and keeping contacts with future friends and allies who will assist you until you feel comfortable after your aliyah.
As in preparation for any major performance or competition – the final actual performance seems formidable and unconquerable. However, when one exercises and prepares each day, your performance and confidence increases. On the day of the performance, if you have prepared well and correctly, you will feel eager to compete and win in your new challenge and adventure.
Such is the case with preparing for aliyah. When one prepares professional training, Hebrew language, learns the laws and function of society and institutions, and makes and retains friends, mentors, and colleagues – success will follow. The fulfillment of a lifetime dream of living successfully in Israel with fellow Jewish olim from around the world to build a Society of Justice, Peace, and Fulfillment will become a reality.
THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM!
Olim from English-Speaking Countries