Friday, April 23, 2010

Renewal of Sorts

I know I've blogging on a very irregular basis. It's been an interesting time for me. I think I'm finally starting to settle into who I am as a Jew. As I've stated before, I don't like to be niched. But at this point, I think the best way to describe me is as a Religious Zionist in Galut.

I have developed a deep desire to return home, to Eretz Yisrael. I lived there as a I child. My family (parents and myself) left just before I turned 14 (which is good because that would make me a Katin Chozer, eligible for Aliyah rights... I think). When we left, it was with the understanding we'd be returning once I finished high school in the US, since, growing up as a Lubavitcher, it was unthinkable to go to a Mamlachti Dati school and receive a secular education alongside the religious one.

Unfortunately, returning home kind of got forgotten. But over the last year or so, that desire has reawakened with in me. I know living in Israel is difficult, at best, especially for someone who is not of means (um, like me!) :). However, it IS possible. I am finally developing skills as a baker at the local kosher bakery here. My boss is actually taking his family to Israel for a year for a test run (if it works out, he'll stay). Since he's been unable to sell the business, he's leaving me pretty much in charge of production. In other words, I'm currently doing about 90%-95% of the baking. I'll be doing 100% of it before long.

I plan to continue to develop these skills for at least another year+. At that point, I'll be an experienced baker, and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to find a job in Israel baking, which would be a thrill for me. Another option would be translating, though I'm not sure what the market is there for that industry. I spent three years translating for the Shoah Foundation in LA and great references who are more than ready to give me glowing recommendations.

My desire to return home is not just a pipe dream. I am actually becoming frightened of living in Chutz La'Aretz at this point. I don't think things are moving in a positive directions for us as Jews.

My wife and I have begun, tentatively, discussing the prospect of Aliyah. There are a few of things holding her back. First, of course, is parnassah. But I think, once I've fine-tuned my baking skills on a mass level, we'll be OK there. There are plenty of bakeries and bake shops there, so I don't think finding a job will be difficult for me. And I'm hoping once we're there and I'm working, my wife might find the opportunity to return to school (for which Nefesh b'Nefesh pays through a Master's degree) and get a Master's in something useful.

Another concern, more for her than for me since I'm fluent in the language, is being uncomfortable around non-English speakers. Again, if we live in a town with a sizable American population, I don't think it'll be much of a problem. Nefesh b'Nefesh is currently running its Go North program, in which they are actually giving monetary incentive (more than normal Aliyah incentives) to people willing to settle in and develop the Galil, which more Americans are moving there now. And yes, since living in or near Yerushalayim is not an option (first, there's the cost; second, I think the friction with the crazy chareidim would drive me nuts), my second choice is the Galil. There are also Anglo neighborhoods in other areas, such as Neve Aliza in Karnei Shomron. Options to keep open.

A third concern is education for the kids. We need to live in a place where the schools are good. Not mediocre. Good. But I'm pretty sure that, staying away from Chareidi schools (of the types I was forced to attend), the kids will do well in Mamlachti Dati schools. And they're free. :)

A final real concern: My wife's parents. They are aging, and not well. Living where currently live, about 2000 miles away from them in a climate not suitable for them in the winter is already very difficult for them. Us living in Israel would weigh terribly on them, since they would not be able to see the children very often, if at all. What's ironic is they insist they MUST live in LA because of the weather. The irony? Much of Israel has a nearly identical climate to LA. Their best friends on the planet live in Haifa, which is just south of and easily accessible from the Galil. But, at this time, they wouldn't even consider the option, despite the fact that with their combined pensions, Social Security, and investments, they could live quite well there. For this concern, I guess we'll just have to see how things play out.

In any case, here's to hoping we can take this step sometime in the next year or two, maybe three.


Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

Sounds like there are some exciting changes and conversations going on! Hopefully you'll keep us all in the loop via the blog as things keep developing.

Also congrats on the job stuff. I have personal experience with how many other decisions ride on the parnassah question.

Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People said...

Thanks! And for once, thank God, the changes are good and positive and I'm hoping to keep them on that track.

Actually, since I wrote this post, we talked some more and she does agree we should move there sometime in the next few years. As I mentioned, one of her big concerns was the language barrier and wanting to live where there are more Anglos. She was worried that I wouldn't want to live where she might want to (where she'd be more comfortable with the language thing) and I told her as long as it's in Israel, I don't care WHERE we live! That actually broke down and put to rest one of her two biggest concerns.

I'll keep y'all posted! :)

Miriam said...

I hope to meet your family!

Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People said...

Sooner or later! :) I'll be posting again next week. I may have some interesting news that is good in the sense of parnassa, but may delay Aliyah for a while.