Lessons on Olim Life in Israel

Stand for Israel  |  July 10, 2023

Flags of Israel in Jerusalem
(Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon/ASHERNET)

Starting a new life in a new land is complicated, no matter where someone came from and no matter where they immigrated to. But despite the difficulties, there are so many positives for immigrants—and that’s especially true for olim (immigrants to Israel). Writing at The Jerusalem Post, a Jewish woman who made aliyah (immigrated) 13 years ago shares 13 lessons she’s learned from life in the Holy Land:

1. Israel is a very complicated place.

I shock myself anew every time I remember that I live in the Middle East. The history! The politics! The cultural mix! By age 30, I felt like I had mastered America. I’ve long ago accepted that I will never fully understand the nuances of this homeland of ours.

2. I will always be an immigrant.

At the beginning of my aliyah journey, when I was first falling in love with Israel, I only saw the good. Now that I have been married to Israel for quite some time, I also see its flaws. I don’t love this place any less, but there are cultural things that go on here that I will never understand. 

Even though life in Israel keeps me humble, after 13 years I feel I’ve earned the right to cynically say, “Welcome to Israel,” whenever someone tells me a story of a bureaucratic snafu that defies logic.

3. One needs to see Israel through spiritual eyes to truly appreciate its beauty.

When I first started visiting Israel, in my very American way I was shocked by the dirt on the streets of Jerusalem, the stray cats everywhere, and the flies that buzzed around the baked goods in the open-air markets.

Now my eyes and ears are much more attuned to holiness, to things of beauty. A perfect lemon on a tree in a neighbor’s garden. The way the sun turns the stones of Jerusalem a particular golden hue. A flock of sheep walking in the fields beside the road on which I am driving. The Shabbat music that is played on loudspeakers in my daughter’s community just before candle-lighting time. The lone man reciting the afternoon prayers beside his car on the side of the road, just as the sun is setting…

Read more at The Jerusalem Post.

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